Documents and audio recordings released yesterday by One Wisconsin Now document an apparent plot by the Wisconsin Republican Party, Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (aka Fight Back Wisconsin), and various other tea party groups to suppress votes from minorities and students in this year’s elections using a well-documented — and illegal— practice known as “voter caging.”
Voter Caging became better known after it was used in the 2004 Election in Florida by RNC staffers such as Tim Griffin, to block the votes of African Americans serving in Iraq without them even knowing it.
Tim was later rewarded by becoming and assistant to Karl Rove, and after that he was awarded a post as a U.S. Attorney in the midst of the rather mysterious round of firings that occurred late in the Bush Administration - especially when some of those Attorneys refused to pursue bogus voter fraud cases against organizations such as ACORN. Tim is now running for Congress in Arkansas - and winning by double digits.
This is what Caging is...
Caging has also been used as a form of voter suppression. A political party challenges the validity of a voter's registration; for the voter's ballot to be counted, the voter must prove that their registration is valid.
Voters targeted by caging are often the most vulnerable: those who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, and those who cannot spare the time, effort, and expense of proving that their registration is valid. Ultimately, caging works by dissuading a voter from casting a ballot, or by ensuring that they cast a provisional ballot, which is less likely to be counted.
With one type of caging, a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable - because, for example, the voter refuses to sign for it, the voter isn't present for delivery, or the voter is homeless - the party uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent. It is this use of direct mail caging techniques to target voters which probably resulted in the application of the name to the political tactic.
There's nothing wrong in theory with removing invalid registrations - just how do you send mail to Mickey Mouse? - but that isn't the real point of purpose for cagings, it's about targeting specific minority groups and blocking their votes thereby changing the outcome of the election - which is a direct violation of the Voting Rights Act.
So now, today, ginned up by paranoid fantasies of fraudulent ACORN Voters, in Wisconsin this Crime is being repeated yet again...
Audio recordings of the tea party meeting where the alleged voter suppression plot was discussed include numerous references by presenters to supposed instances of minorities and college students voting illegally. Tim Dake, a prominent tea partier in the state who belongs to Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty, cited an anecdote about busloads of out-of-state voters voting multiple times in previous elections, then went on to discuss “the racial thing”:“So, the problem is now you see elections being stolen and we have to get these guys fired up about it, which is not happening. The other thing is you run into the racial thing. You have people screaming, ‘Oh, you’re denying the minorities their right to vote.” No, we’re denying their right to vote multiple times.’”
“No, we’re not even denying the minorities anything, we’re denying fraud,” added an unidentified attendee of the meeting.
Yeah, ok - you're not a bigot, you've just got that rope in your hand while openly plotting to commit a Federal Crime, so that you can catch some runaway Wisconsin steers?
If you have "busloads" of out of state voters coming in the proper thing to do would be to alert the FBI, not try and take matters into your own hands like a vigilante squad, or try to randomly block people - who happen to have ethnic sounding surnames - from being able to vote.
The danger of this is particularly high in Wisconsin since Senator Russ Feingold - the only U.S. Senator to vote against the Patriot Act - happens to be in the fight of his political career.
Feingold won his first term with 53% of the vote in 1992, defeating incumbent two-term Republican Sen. Bob Kasten. He was then re-elected with a bare 51% in 1998, then expanded that margin to 55% in 2004. But now he's trailing in the polls against Republican businessman Ron Johnson -- the TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a healthy lead of 51.6%-44.8%. In addition, Public Policy Polling (D) will have another survey out today, showing Feingold down by double-digits as a result of a "massive" enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters.
Although current numbers from sites such as Election Projection.com (50 Dem Senate, 219 Dem House) and Electoral Vote.com (51 Dem Senate, 225 Dem House) show the Democrats retaining control of both the House and Senate by a slim margin the combination of low enthusiasm and voter suppression this November could severely darken that sunny outlook for Democrats, particular for Feingold - who is frankly someone we can't afford to lose.
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Contact the DOJ Voting Rights Division Here.
Many more details from Dairy two days ago by One Wisconsin Now.