So I woke up this morning, tired, yet emotionally jacked up to head on over to my City Clerk's office in Middleton, Wisconsin. I had posted on Facebook last night that I felt like an atypically politically-motivated little kid on Christmas Eve waiting to receive the only gift I asked for: a chance to reclaim our Wisconsin from tyranny. As my friend and well-known fellow Wisconsin Kossack Giles Goat Boy wrote about this morning, Wisconsin law allows for in-person absentee voting at your local municipal clerk's office beginning when they open for business two Mondays before an election until the time their offices close on the weekend before an election. My plan was that I would gleefully stride into the Clerk's office in City Hall and cast my vote for Tom Barrett for Governor and for Mahlon Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor. I've been waiting to Recall Scott Walker and bring his draconian reign to an end since the moment I arrived in the Madison Capitol building on February 17th, 2011 and knew that my life would never be the same.
The doors to City Hall were already unlocked when I ascended the front steps at 7:40 a.m., five minutes earlier than the building was even scheduled to open. I would assuredly be the first person to cast my vote in the entire municipality and, for all I know, perhaps the first to vote in the entire state of Wisconsin. I was greeted by an ominously fluorescent sign on the interior windows of the entry way alerting me to the fact that absentee ballots had yet to arrive at the City Clerk's office and would be arriving on Monday, May 21st. "Hey...that's TODAY," I thought..."They probably just forgot to take the signs down when they opened the building back up after the weekend!"
Curious at this point, I proudly strode through the open door into the clerk's office and approached the counter. "Are you here to vote absentee?" I was asked. Damn fucking right, I was. Much to my dismay, what do I find out? Oh yea, the sign was still up there for a reason, as they have somehow yet to receive their absentee ballots. Talk about an epic fail. Trying my best to hide my incredulity, I asked when they would be receiving them and the woman behind the counter told me that I could always stop back later today and see if they were in. That doesn't cut it for me. I left my phone number and received confirmation that they will supposedly call me as soon as the ballots arrive. I guess that's what I get for getting my ass out of bed early for once. Nothing like waking up on Christmas morning only to find a lump of fucking coal in your stocking...
To me this is unequivocally unacceptable. For the last week and a half, I have been going door-to-door canvassing to get-out-the-vote and hopefully convince those on the fence to vote for Tom Barrett rather than stay home or vote for the tyrant who has torn apart the only state I have ever called home. I rationalize that they should vote as soon as they possibly can, in order to free themselves up for whatever they need to do to help the effort on Election Day and avoid the inevitable long lines and controlled chaos at the polls on Tuesday, June 5th. I have already been informed by other friends of mine that they were turned away in other municipalities, having been told that the ballots may not arrive until either this upcoming Wednesday or even Thursday. What the fuck is going on? The primary elections in Wisconsin were held thirteen days ago, as Tom Barrett defeated a crowded Democratic field and the Governer somehow overcame an over 8,000 to 1 fundraising advantage to defeat the young Lincoln-La Follette REAL Republican, Arthur Kohl-Riggs. THIRTEEN FUCKING DAYS AGO. I spend a lot of my time reading online articles, blogs and diaries in order to stay abreast of the latest happenings in Wisconsin. Yet somehow, I have not read a single thing since the primary election indicating that various local municipalities might not be receiving their absentee ballots by today to distribute for early voting.
Now how in the hell do I explain to the people I speak with while canvassing that they are legally SUPPOSED to be able to cast in-person absentee ballots at their municipal clerk's office starting today, but there is no guarantee that their respective clerks will even have the ballots?? I understand that early voting lasts through next Friday, June 1st and most individuals will have the opportunity to cast their vote whenever they choose. Well, I have been promoting early voting for the past two weeks and explaining that it began this morning, Monday, May 21st. Not Tuesday...not Wednesday...not Thursday...TODAY!! Several times, I have convinced individuals to cast the very first vote of their lives, standing up for themselves and their fellow citizens against the far right-wing agenda and policies of "divide and conquer" and austerity, by pledging their vote to RECALL WALKER .
Those individuals who were already disillusioned by the political process or think that voting does not matter are not going to have their opinions changed if they stride up to their local clerk's office on my recommendation and encouragement, only to be turned away because there are no ballots to be filled out. I have encountered people who said they work two jobs and are typically busy all week long and may not have been able to vote on Tuesday the 5th. What if someone had taken today off of work, as it was the only chance they might have had to cast a ballot?? I mean, it's only the most important election as a harbinger of the direction our country is headed in post-Citizens United SCOTUS ruling (apologies to President Obama, Mitt Romney and Jill Stein, et al.) As one Facebook friend said to me today:
"What crap! I just told a couple, leaving for their 3 week vacation, that they could go to city hall and get the ballots."If this couple votes in a municipality whose clerk did not receive their absentee ballots yet, say hello to potential disenfranchisement.
I don't know who is responsible for mailing out the absentee ballots to the various clerks' offices, but this is an egregiously negligent error for which someone needs to be held to account. Then again, under the fascist rule of Fitzwalkerstan, nothing surprises me anymore. Am I appalled by the endless stream of lies that are told, bills that are passed and shenanigans that are pulled on a far too consistent basis? Sure. Unfortunately, in a state where 14,000 votes magically appear in order to flip the result of a Wisconsin Supreme Court election two days after the election had been called, in our state's reddest county no less, nothing is beyond suspicion and all bets are off. I think I might just make a call to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. This is NOT what democracy looks like...SHAME.
*For those wishing to contact the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and voice your displeasure, feel free to give them a call them toll-free at 1-866-VOTE-WIS or at their local number of 608-266-8005. Or you can email them at email@example.com.
8:49 AM PT: I just stumbled into a blog by Brad Friedman from last Wednesday on his page The Brad Blog documenting that "Under one state law, absentee ballots should have been available Tuesday because the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and four GOP state senators is three weeks away, on June 5. But another law says ballots cannot be made available in a general election until after the period to ask for a recount in the primary passes, and that won't happen for the May 8 primary until Friday, Kennedy said."
8:51 AM PT: Here is the link to the article on The Brad Blog:
10:30 AM PT: From Kossack Tanyaoe posted below:
Per the May 16 GAB memo to the clerks:
"If you do not have printed ballots by 8:00 a.m. on May 21st, you MUST provide voters with substitute ballots (a copy of the ballot proof sent by the county) until the printed ballots are received. Please do not disenfranchise voters because you don’t have printed ballots."
I was offered no such ballot. Wow...