Is it a simple error? Or campaign shenanigans and voter fraud? You be the judge.
Keith Heck, a former Racine Unified School Board member who lives in Mount Pleasant, reports receiving a mailing containing two tear-out requests for an absentee ballot. The preprinted request form -- an 11x17 piece of card stock folded over twice for mailing -- is addressed to the clerk in the the village of Caledonia.
Heck says, "I spoke with the Caledonia clerk and learned if we (in Mount Pleasant) used the form and sent it to the pre-printed address they would have to forward it to the right jurisdiction (if they had the time and the people) who would then have to send out the absentee ballot. As the deadline to submit a request is Oct. 30, and the clerks have a deadline of Oct. 31, this bogus form not only gums up and overworks the process to get absentee ballots sent out, it could cause some to not even be mailed."
Inside, were two forms like this.
Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
The election officials Heck spoke to -- Racine County and Caledonia -- said sending the absentee ballot request to the wrong clerk would not jeopardize a voter's registration, but might result in the absentee ballot not getting sent due to overworked personnel, or the possibility of missing the deadline.
Another report comes from Jennifer Jackson, a Kenosha County supervisor. She says a friend in Middleton received similar McCain literature, containing a large post card which was an application for absentee ballot. The return address was wrong. Instead of the Middleton address for her clerk's office , it was a Madison clerk's office address. Had she filled this out and sent it back, "her vote would never have been counted," according to Jackson.
Jackson -- full disclosure requires us to note that she's a Democratic Party activist -- said: "My friend is very involved with the Obama Campaign in Middleton. She called many of her friends and found they had the same thing. They debated whether or not to send them in at McCain expense, then they realized the return address was not Middleton but in fact a Madison address."
Jackson says, "I do not for one second think this was an error on the part of the McCain side. They deliberately mailed to strong Democratic voters and deliberately tried to derail their votes."
Otherwise, she asks, "Why mail to established Democrats who have no intention of voting for McCain? Why did everyone with a Middleton address have the same mistake of a return to the Madison Clerk's office? "It is clear," she adds, "that , not trusting E-voting, many Democrats are absentee voting this year. Did the McCain camp think by mis-routing these applications their votes would not be counted? It is true, they would not have been."
Heck also subscribes to the dirty tricks theory. He notes, "I was listening to Air America Radio yesterday and today and it sounded like this was happening around Wisconsin and even in Michigan. If you received this mailer and sent in a request you may want to follow up with the clerk you mailed it to, or call the clerk for your municipality and explain to them what happened to get this corrected. You may also want to forward this to your friends to alert them to his situation. If you have the mailer, check to see if it’s to the right clerk, hold on to the form and ... let our community know how broad this problem is."
Bryan Miller, chair of the Kenosha Democratic Party, says he never received a flier from a Republican candidate in the eight years he's lived in Wisconsin. "Frankly, as I was getting the mail out of the mailbox yesterday, I about fell out of the car when I saw the McCain flier." His had the correct mailing address on it, but he said more than a million Obama supporters in Ohio received an absentee ballot from the McCain campaign that included an "extra" check box "by accident," and were thus deemed invalid.
Miller said he talked to Kyle Richardson of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, who said he received a report of someone who had moved, but got a flier with the mailing address of the municipal clerk serving their old address. "If you send the application to the wrong clerk, it will invalidate your voter registration, essentially moving your registration to the new municipality," Miller said.
Anyone receiving the flier with the wrong address is urged to call the GAB at 608-266-8005 to report it. Or, you can email the GAB with a scanned copy of the invalid portions, or file a complaint here.