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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Allegations of massive fraud in Wisconsin GOP recall petitions against Democrats

Six Republican state senators will in all likelihood face recall elections in July while Republicans allegedly got enough signatures to trigger recall elections for 3 Democratic state senators. While the Democrats averaged 50% over the threshold Republicans managed an average of 30% over the threshold, which is 25% of votes cast in the last election. A swing of three seats to the Democrats will give the Democrats a majority and stymie Governor Scott Walker's agenda.

The real story here is the allegations of fraud against the Republican petitions. While the Democrats, highly motivated by Walker's union busting agenda used local grass roots to gather signatures the Republicans used an outside company paying them $100,000. Allegations of fraud, mostly in conning signers by misrepresenting the nature of the petition have been rampant. The Democrats have now filed a formal challenge with hundreds of affidavits to bolster their case.

Senate District 12: Of the 534 people contacted who had signed the petition, 9.2% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.

Senate District 22: Of the 225 people contacted who had signed the petition, 6.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.

Senate District 30: Of the 372 people contacted who had signed the petition, 8.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.

Affidavit of a World War II veteran from Green Bay who was misled into signing a recall petition. Upon learning he had been duped, veteran called the sheriff to get his name removed. When confronted, the circulator claims he will remove the name, but a later review of the petitions reveals the veteran's name was never crossed off.

Many affidavits attesting that Circulator Sherri Ferrell - who gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in two districts -- gathered signatures on Indian reservations claiming petitions were to support "schools," "Democrats," and "tribal rights."

Affidavit of voter in Senate District 22 attesting that circulator John Prijic claimed the petitions were for work to be done on a local park.

Affidavit of voter in Senate District 30 attesting that circulator Richard Madrill claimed the petitions were to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

William Pocan’s forged name appears on line 10, page 362 of circulator Kevin Pursell’s petition. As his widow Corinne Pocan’s affidavit attests, William Pocan has been deceased 20 years, although his name remains in the phone book.

Claims by many Wisconsin citizens who were misled by out-of-state circulators who claimed they could sign on behalf of other people.

Numerous examples of fake addresses and signatures appearing on GOP recall petitions, as well as sloppily gathered signatures also missing critical information.

Republicans have also filed challenges against all six Democrat petitions, challenging signatures as well as irregularities in the filing of the paperwork. The signature challenges should fall far short because of the larger cushion over the threshold.

One indicator of the recall election prospects is that a seat in the state House Assembly in a special election Tuesday held by the GOP for the past 17 years was won by a Democrat.

This could get interesting. One thing is obvious; that circulators systematically misled signers as to the nature of the petitions. Whether any of the recall petitions against the three Democrat can have enough signatures tossed is unknown. Either way, the allegations will become part of the narrative of the election, an issue that could help the Democrats overall. The elections will have a significance far beyond Wisconsin and will, in effect be a referendum on GOP overreach in a number of states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. In Ohio and Michigan, recall campaigns against their new GOP governors is already underway.

The irony of all this is that it's the GOP who constantly bring up allegations of voter fraud to justify voter ID laws that make it more difficult for elderly and or low income voters to vote.

A win for the Democrats in Wisconsin will bode well for 2012 both as a reflection of extreme GOP policies and the ability for the Democrats to motivate voters to show up to vote, something that cost them dearly in 2010. That the pendulum is swinging back the other way is becoming more evident. Just how much it will swing is yet to be seen.

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