Do you remember the lead up to the 2004 election in Milwaukee? Do you remember all the ads, all the talking heads, all the goddamn phone calls?
Do you remember this (from the 10/28/2004 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)?
State Republicans filed a last-minute complaint Wednesday with the Milwaukee Election Commission claiming that 5,600 city addresses on the voter rolls may not exist.
The commission will meet at 9 a.m. today to consider the Republican allegation.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin checked the addresses of more than 300,000 people registered to vote in the city with a software program also used by the U.S. Postal Service.
Republicans found that 5,619 addresses may be non-existent and then visited a number of the addresses. They snapped photos showing vacant lots, a gyro stand, a park and spots between two houses where the address should have been.
A Republican Party spokesman said the GOP routinely checks voter rolls to purge files and was interested in the city ofMilwaukee because of the large number of new voter registrations for this presidential election.
"George Bush lost the state by 5,708 votes, so these kinds of things do matter," Chris Lato said.
Do you remember this? (from the 10/31/2004 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):
Citing a new list of more than 37,000 questionable addresses, the state Republican Party demanded Saturday that Milwaukee city officials require identification from all of those voters Tuesday.
If the city doesn't, the party says it is prepared to have volunteers challenge each individual -- including thousands who might be missing an apartment number on their registration -- at the polls.
The move, which dramatically escalates the party's claims of bad addresses and potential fraud, was condemned by Democrats as a last- minute effort to suppress turnout in the city by creating long delays at the polls.
City officials, who already were trying to establish safeguards in response to the party's claim of 5,619 bad addresses, were surprised by the 37,180 number, nearly seven times larger.
"It's not a leap at all to say the potential for voter fraud is high in the city, and the integrity of the entire election, frankly, is at stake," said Rick Graber, state GOP chairman. "The city's records are in horrible shape."
Obviously the GOP didn't prevail and Kerry carried Wisconsin.
But the people who sought to disenfranchise thousands of Milwaukeeans were never called to account for their actions. Steven Biskupic's lengthy voter fraud investigation yielded close to nothing, humiliating the big numbers and conspiracy claims of Graber and Lato and Wiley. (Prompting Wiley to whine to Karl Rove.)
But the GOP knew at the time that its numbers were less than rock-solid (to be generous). And they went ahead and sought to strike voters from the rolls regardless.
The MJS launched a lengthy investigation of the problems in the city's voter rolls. And that was fine work. But it never put a similar effort investigating the GOP's vile actions here. Did the Republicans really believe what they were saying at the time? Who conceived of the strategy? Were these efforts coordinated with the White House?
As journalists and, hopefully, Congress delve into the goings on in Biskupic's office over the past two years -- and for all the Brawler knows he may have been advancing Republican interests with the purest of intentions -- The Brawler would suggest the great Voter Suppression Drive of 2004 be given a second look.