A massive, coordinated and illegal plan to suppress Wisconsin voter turnout in November was exposed today by One Wisconsin Now (OWN).
The plan, targeting minority voters and students, is a joint effort of the Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity, and Tea Party groups. OWN has somehow obtained both copies of the plan and a recording of a meeting at which it was discussed, both available on a new website, SaveWisconsinVote2010.org
OWN Executive Director Scot Ross said the group will request investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Election Integrity Task Force and the Government Accountability Board, to insure the right to vote is not stolen by these plans.
The term for what the right-wing intends to do is called "vote caging,"and involves sending mail to addresses on voter lists and using returned mail to challenge voters at the polls on election day.
The result? Some voters are forced to cast provisional ballots, which require them to follow-up the day after an election for the ballot to be counted. Historically, about 35% of all provisional ballots are never counted.
Voters who have no reason to think their registrations will be challenged at the polling place may not have the required material to complete an Election Day registration, so the voter will be turned away or sent home to get more documents.
The challenges may create long lines at the polling place as the caging operation challenges voter after voter. Long lines discourage voters and many simply leave without casting a ballot.
That is why right-wing caging operations target areas which vote overwhelmingly Democratic (like Milwaukee's central city and college campuses.)
One Wisconsin Now obtained an audio recording from a June 12 meeting of leaders of the state’s Tea Party movement, led by Tim Dake, head of the GrandSons of Liberty, and who serves as a regular spokesperson for Wisconsin’s Tea Party organizations and is widely viewed as the movement’s Wisconsin leader.
In the audio Dake lays out the plans, detailing contact between himself and Reince Preibus, the Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair and Mark Block, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin. Said Dake:
So, what were hoping is that the various groups in the coalition plus Americans for Prosperity and Mark Block, who has been in on this, and the Republican Party, and this is coming all the way from the top Reince Priebus has said, "We’re in."
It may be illegal for those groups to coordinate such activities under state law, in addition to the federal law.
The clause in the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 (NVRA) which prohibits voter caging to suppress voting is:
Pursuant to the NVRA, a voter may not be removed from the voters list unless (1) the voter has requested removal; (2) state law requires removal by reason of criminal conviction or mental capacity; (3) the voter has confirmed in writing that he has moved outside the jurisdiction maintaining the specific voter list, or (4) the voter both (a) has failed to respond to a cancellation notice issued pursuant to the NVRA and (b) has not voted or appeared to vote in the two federal general elections following the date of notice.