The Brawler recalls that during the spring elections, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters were out and about at polling stations and posting blog reports on peoples' thoughts on the races.
A good use of feet on the street and an effective use of technology. The Brawler suspects that they'll be out there again on Tuesday. This time the Brawler suggests they pay attention to GOP efforts to intimidate, confuse or misdirect voters -- a gambit that's transparently in the works given the RPW's requests for burly guys to be stationed at "inner city" locations and Van Hollen's antics (called out by Senator Feingold).
What should the Journal Sentinel be looking out for? As a refresher, here's a rundown of some stunts they pulled off in 200 (from 10/24/05 congressinal testimony by Matt O'Neill, a lawyer for the Kerry-Edward 2004 campaign:
I also successfully defended a last-minute attempt to remove 5,600 names from the City of Milwaukee registration list based upon unreliable computer analysis. Less than a week before the election, a Republican-led effort was filed with the City Elections Conunission to invalidate 5,600 names on the Milwaukee poll list based upon a computer analysis purporting to show that the addresses did not exist in the City. At the hearing, the Republican witnesses acknowledged that they had not personally verified 99% of the addresses on the list, did not know how many may have been the result of clerical errors, and that the gentleman who signed the verified complaint had learned of the entire matter the day before the hearing. The alleged computer expert acknowledged that he personally checked three of the addresses on the list, and found that one of the three addresses in fact did exist. The City denied the complaint.
The Republican Party had hundreds of attorneys deployed to targeted wards whose primary function appeared to be the intimidation and suppression of minority voters under the guise of monitoring for "fraud." In addition, the GOP paid hundreds of non-lawyers to "observe" at targeted polls while wearing orange T- shirts emblazoned with "HAVA Volunteer" on the front. Our volunteers also encountered law enforcement officials visiting various polls and challenging the propriety of efforts by the Voter Protection attorneys and Election Protection coalition volunteers to assist voters at the polls.
The primary aspects of the carefully planned GOP suppression effort included:
--Placing at least one person behind the election inspectors in targeted wards with a handheld electronic device (primarily Palm Pilots or Blackberries) to stare at each voter while entering their name and address in the device as they identified themselves to the pollworkers and received a ballot.
--Paying individuals $160 to wear orange "HAVA Volunteer" T- shirts and patrol polling places. In large part these individuals (who were not volunteers) knew nothing about the Help America Vote Act, and several wrongly suggested that HAVA required an alreadyregistered voter to produce identification in order to vote.
--Impersonating authorities at the polling places. The Reports reflect instances of orange-shirted observers stating that they were authorities, and instances of persons claiming to be "election officials" and giving out incorrect information about the registration process.
-- Walking up and down voting lines with printed lists in hand and suggesting that persons "not on the list" were not allowed to vote.
--Using attorneys to lodge challenges to voters pursuant to S 6.925, Wis. Stats. In many cases Republican attorneys would lodge a challenge, disrupt the voting process, and then abandon the challenge, after forcing a voter to answer questions under oath, by refusing to execute sworn statements supporting the claimed challenges.
-- Challenging the authority of election inspectors during every step of the election day process, including: (a) challenging the use of special deputy registrars for same day registration (despite an October 27, 2004 City of Milwaukee Elections Commission resolution authorizing the process); (b) challenging inspectors' attempts to continue to process votes during machine breakdowns; (e) asking an inspector to sign a form stating that a machine was not inspected; and (d) challenging the use of volunteers to help process same day registration cards.
-- Using law enforcement agents to harass Election Protection volunteers attempting to assist voters standing in line. For example, at about 5:30 p.m. at Holton School, four men, one with visible handcuffs, walked through the polling place and told Election Protection volunteers not to assist voters attempting to locate the correct polling place.
Threatening to "call the authorities" if election inspectors did not act as instructed by Republican attorneys.
--Challenging any absentee ballot that did not have a Wisconsin- return address in the certificate, despite the fact that an out- of--state return address is legal and appropriate for out-of- state absentee voters.
-- Challenging valid student registration with photo IDs matched to student directories, and thereafter challenging any student who corroborated another student's residence.
In addition to these generalized efforts, the Republican Party attempted to potentially disenfranchise thousands of City of Milwaukee voters through an eleventh-hour challenge (filed literally minutes before the deadline for filing any such challenge) to a list of 5,619 addresses that the Republican; Party contended did not exist. As demonstrated during an October 28, 2004 hearing, the Republican Party did not bother to check the validity of 99% of the names and addresses on the list, many of which were the result of clerical errors that occurred when City employees entered information on the computer system. After that effort failed, just days before the election the GOP publicly threatened to challenge an additional 30,000 registered voters based upon unverified assertions that "apartment numbers" did not match up.
Some of these actions could have and should have led to jail time for the thugs involved (and it's just scratching the surface; a Brawler buddy who was monitoring a polling place recalls how some RPW stooges were standing outside a polling place telling people, falsely,it was the wrong location). Shockingly, the Bush DOJ never investigated. Disgracefully, the MJS was more committed to pursuing the will-o-wisp of "voter fraud" rather than the obvious efforts by the RPW to suppress the vote. They shouldn't get a pass again.