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Romney Campaign Training Poll Watchers To Mislead Voters In Wisconsin

Team Romney is giving poll watchers false information about voters' rights.
 
 
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Editor's note: also see Steve Rosenfeld's report about how the Tea Party-aligned TrueTheVote may be violating Ohio law with a similar scheme.

Mitt Romney’s campaign has been training poll watchers in Wisconsin with highly misleading — and sometimes downright false — information about voters’ rights.

Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters. A source passed along the following packet of documents, which was distributed to volunteers at a  Romney campaign training in Racine on October 25th. In total,  six such trainings were held across the state in the past two weeks.

One blatant falsehood occurs on page 5 of the training packet, which informed poll watchers that any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. This is not true. Once a Wisconsin voter who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, that person is once again eligible to vote.

The training also encouraged volunteers to deceive election workers and the public about who they were associated with. On page 3 of the packet, Romney poll workers were instructed to hide their affiliation with the campaign and told to sign in at the polls as a “concerned citizen” instead. As Kristina Sesek, Romney’s legal counsel who just graduated from Marquette Law School last year,  explained, “We’re going to have you sign in this election cycle as a ‘concerned citizen.’ We’re just trying to alleviate some of the animosity of being a Republican observer up front.”

This packet could cause major problems if Republican observers across the state try to enforce such wrong and misleading information on Election Day. Even if they simply slow the voting process down, this could discourage voters waiting in line and drive drown turnout.

Here are four misleading or incorrect pieces of information disbursed by the Romney campaign:


CLAIM: Any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. (Page 5) FACT: Once a person who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, including probation and fines, that person is  eligible to vote.
CLAIM: Page 8 lists 10 items as “The ONLY Acceptable Forms of “Proof of Residency”. FACT: The list used is incomplete. There are  many other documents people can use to prove residency that are not included, such as letters from public schools, student loan papers, correspondence with a Native American tribe in Wisconsin, vehicle registration, and food stamp correspondances. In addition, the list fails to mention that homeless voters may use an affidavit from a public or private social service agency as proof of residency.
CLAIM: “If a handicapped voter is unable to come into the polls to vote, an assistant can deliver the ballot to the voter if the CEI verifies the elector’s proof of residency.” (Page 10) FACT: Under Wisconsin law, the CEI (Chief Election Inspector)  does not have to verify proof of residency so long as the voter is registered.
CLAIM: “Election Observers should not assist [voters].” (Page 10) FACT: A voter can ask for assistance from anyone, including a  poll watcher, so long as the voter initiates the request and does not engage in electioneering.
 

 

Scott Keyes is a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
 
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