WI Right to Life and Voter Suppression? Listen to Interview

Listen to my full interview with Wisconsin’s Right to Life here. 

I recorded this interview, with permission, at 2:00 pm on Election Day for our Democratic primary for the recall election in WI Senate District 10, July 12.  This primary resulted in Shelly Moore (D) defeating fake (pseudo Democrat) candidate Isaac Weix, who is openly Republican.  Weix was injected into the Senate race in order to delay the general election on Aug. 9 (the Republican Party stated that their incumbents needed more time to campaign).  Moore will now advance to face Sheila Harsdorf (R) who has held the Senate seat for over a decade.   

A 67-yr-old life-long Democrat in District 10 received a confusing robocall and an inconsistent absentee ballot request form from the group Wisconsin Right to Life.  The robocall instructed her that she “will be receiving an absentee ballot application…in the next few days…send it back to us…” That application came the following day, July 12, and she knew she did not have time to follow WRTL instructions.  After hearing similar confusing reports from all over our district, I decided to call WRTL for clarification.  A woman named Betty answered the phone, and surrendered the call to another woman part way through who did not identify herself. 

In the interview, WRTL explained that executive director, Barbara Lyons, wrote and read the script used for the robocall.  Wisconsin Right To Life confirmed that they contracted a group from Virginia (703-410-3201) and actually planned the robocalls to land on the day before Dist. 10’s primary election.  When I said that voters are frustrated and confused – Betty, at the WRTL office, admitted that robocalls were “very, very poor timing on our part.  It was supposed to have been done yesterday.”  WRTL explained that the robocalls were planned for July 11 only, but the contracting company “chose to complete it today,” when they allegedly were unable to fulfill the contract on the agreed date. WRTL has denied any wrong doing.

In the robocall, constituents were told to “complete that application and send it back to us in the next 7 days…voting absentee will ensure that your vote is counted…” However, the last day for mailing absentee ballot request forms was actually Thursday July 7, 4-5 days prior to the calls going out to voters.  In my interview with them, WRTL asserted that the robocalls and absentee ballot request forms “were intended to be for the general election, not the primary.” 

However, the robocall does not specify which election, potentially leaving listeners waiting for their application and staying home during the primary. WRTL even admits that their plan was for the robocall to go out on the day before the primary (yet they candidly concede that this was “poor timing” and confusing for voters). Furthermore, though the robocall does not mention the Democratic primary, the absentee ballot request form indicates that it may be used “for the primary election scheduled for July 12…”  RTL App 1, RTL App 2, RTL App 3 (look at the bold print halfway down the page), RTL App 4

Another problem with the robocall is that WRTL requests that people “send it back to us….”  The absentee ballot request form even has the address provided: Absentee Ballot Processing Center; P.O. Box 1327, Madison, WI  53701-1327. 

When I asked: ”Do you turn in the absentee applications when people send them to you?”  

WRTF answered: “No, we don’t.  People send them ah…and then their city clerk gets them and then um..ah…um…a clerk will send the ballot back to them.”  She further clarified that someone looks at the addresses and sends them to the appropriate clerk, who then sends the ballot to the expectant voter.

In addition, WRTL has squared off against the Federal Elections Commission.  They are headed to the Supreme Court partially concerning the legality of campaign advertisements used by WRTL during election season.  Out of respect for the vital work that our local voting clerks are conducting and not wanting to force bias, I approached a professional in a nearby state for comment instead.  

 Renee Matlock, MI election official, had this to say after reviewing the WRTL robocall, absenttee ballot request form, and interview:

________________

“It takes a lot to leave me dumbfounded but I must admit that (robo)call did it. I’m an election official with 30 years of experience who has seen enough voter fraud over 30 years to know voter fraud when I see and hear it. Someone, regardless of their political leanings, who is not a clerk of the election and saying to voters “return your absentee ballot application to us for processing” IS committing election fraud…

As an election official the very first thought I am going to have if I get a packet of absentee ballot applications from a group (any group) instead of directly from the voters themselves is “election fraud” and I am NOT even going to be processing them because it is likely they are fraudulent applications. My second thought is going to be to pick up the phone and make three phone calls (State Police, Bureau of Elections and FEC) because it’s a CRIME for me to suspect election fraud and NOT report it.

Then the issue of the WRTL absentee ballot request form, the correct address in Madison to send absentee ballot applications to is Government Accountability Board  PO Box 7984 Madison, WI 53707-7984 and that is decidedly NOT the address on this card nor is the address on the card any official government address that I can locate through the state election board.  That leads me to a conclusion which I am not liking at all.  That conclusion being the group in question is either (a) planning to mass mail the applications to the assorted clerks (which the clerks will NOT process OR have great difficulty processing with hours of extra time and also taxpayer money getting them to the appropriate place.  The cost of correctly processing them if they are sent to the wrong clerk is going to be astronomical.) or (b) they are intending to “leave people hanging” waiting for an absentee ballot that will never arrive.   Either way it is disenfranchising voters who aren’t reading closely – regardless of their political affiliations. 

Further, the application specifically states “I request that an absentee ballot be sent to me for the primary election scheduled for July 12th and the general election scheduled for August 9th in the Wisconsin Senate recall election.”  Now, I am scratching my head here trying to figure out why on earth they would send something to voters for the Primary election so that it arrives AFTER the last date to apply for an absentee ballot…  The choices are “poor planning” or “disenfranchisement” and given the REST of the form… I’m betting on “a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise voters” over simple “poor planning” because the fine print DOES state “This form is not an official form by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.” which could, if one is being generous, be construed to be “notice” that the voter must fill out the official form in order to actually receive an absentee ballot. 

Finally, in my experience, senior citizens and college students are the most easily disenfranchised voters.  Recent high school graduates who have moved on to college tend to be uninformed as to the process… In contrast, senior citizens have years of experience with the process and tend to perform the same actions each time. So, if someone sends them what appears to be a valid application to vote absentee they are likely to fill it out and return it, in many instances without ever looking at the address they are mailing it to.”

_______________

During the interview, even WRTL was confused or uncertain about dates and their own literature several times.  They even admitted in the interview that, “It is very confusing for voters….”  Then, it is pretty simple – stop adding confusion to our election process.  There is too much at stake in our district, state, and country to tolerate any kind of practices that confuse or disenfranchise even one voter, no matter which side of the aisle.

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10 Responses to WI Right to Life and Voter Suppression? Listen to Interview

  1. Larry K says:

    I find this group despicable. I’m not even sure they are interested in reproductive issues. The are likely a front for corporate groups to squeeze the working class even more and use this wedge issue to achieve their agenda.

    In the same day’s mail I received another slick flyer of the same style from some souless group or “profits first, profits only” types who apparently live inside a PO Box in Beloit.

    There is much hand wringing about how much the labor unions put into these campaigns. I guess it’s just more acceptable for the union of corporate elite who work as the name “Freedom Works,” “American Legislative Council” or the “American Bankers Assoc.” to pour their outside dollars into these local campaigns.

    You don’t think these folks are unions? Check these folks out?
    http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home
    They have banded together to give your social security to Wall Street, give fewer retirement benefits, deregulate the workplace, gut our private schools, and hold their hands out for taxpayer funded business development .

    These UNIONS give a lot of money to Harsdorf to make this happen.

  2. Larry K says:

    *I meant “public schools” (Who but the super-rich are going to be able to afford private school after the corporate unions are further empowered.)

  3. Tim says:

    Larry,

    Evidently you havent seen the senior scare tactics used by Ms Moore either…

    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/jul/14/shelly-moore/democratic-candidate-shelly-moore-says-sen-sheila-/

    Shes not exactly being the most truthful candidate herself. Im interested to see in these debates what her ACTUAL plans are. Not just partisan rhetoric and playing the “shes not Sheila card”. If candidate Moore can come up with REAL solutions and just not rhetoric…I dont see her as a viable candidate. Running as “not the status quo” will not be enough to get her reelected.

  4. critical thinker says:

    from the article: “Out of respect for the vital work that our local voting clerks are conducting and not wanting to force bias, I approached a professional in a nearby state for comment instead.”

    What a bunch of bs, clerks are most likely required by law to be truthful and to avoid bias. I’m guessing the “professional” in MI must have been a college buddy or relative to give her opinion to you.

    And then there are the robo phone surveys being taken, only the organization paying for the survey is never mentioned.

    • MrsRaptor says:

      In point of fact, “critical thinker” it is a FELONY for an election official to publicly comment, either positive or negative, regarding either a candidate or issue on the current ballot.

      The name of the election official is given, her certification is a matter of public record. Doesn’t take “critical thinking” to know if something is a matter of public record a claim can be verified easily.

      • MrsRaptor says:

        SLIGHT correction: “it is a FELONY for an election official to publicly comment, either positive or negative, regarding either a candidate or issue on the current ballot in their jurisdiction.”

  5. Larry K says:

    Not going to disagree Tim.

    Moore is a weak candidate and I really don’t think it is likely she will win and the tactic you mentioned is why (This disruptions works better for Republicans because their sympathizers vote their fears not their hopes).

    Also Harsdorf is very entrenched and has been around for awhile.

    I saw two to one Harsdorf yard signs while traveling up to the northern part of the district near Balsam lake and surrounding small towns this weekend.

    If you want to go after Harsdorf you talk about the handouts her family business received, you talk about how she promised ATT would deliver high speed access to rural areas once local towns were stripped of their rights to negotiate their own deals with telecoms (We’re still waiting Sheila) . You talk about the governor’s handouts to corporate donors and legislation favoring big business at the expense of small business and taxpayers.

    You could talk about how teachers and all government workers have had their pay cut to be forced by law to contribute to a retirement fund while most private sector workers have a choice to opt in or out of 401k’s. But I don’t think many people give a damn about the thugs and parasites working for the government (unless their bombing stuff and breaking things).

    So the Moore campaign needs to get it together and choose the right message. Time is running out. Harsdorf has the momentum and by my mail piece count she’s got big outside corporate dollars flowing nicely into her campaign.

    • MrsRaptor says:

      Larry, ATT will never deliver on that promise made on their behalf. ATT and Verizon are both doing away with “wireline” service (traditional phone service) and neither one is going to expand into rural areas because the money simply isn’t there to justify the expense as far as they are concerned. All of this is a matter of public record – look at their FCC filings over the last 36 months and you will see what is going on with them.

      Harsdorf can’t “deliver” ATT or high speed internet service to rural areas and anyone who thinks she can hasn’t been paying attention to what the CEO of ATT has been saying and doing since “Ma Bell” was done away with.

      • Larry K says:

        Exacly my point about Shiela’s claims of a few years ago MrsRaptor. Harsdorf can’t deliver more jobs with her promises of reducing the taxes for the wealthy elite either.

        We’ ve been doing the trickle down for 30 years and here we are, plus jobs have been shipped over seas, public services are being cut and private sector wages and benefits are dwindling and still the middle class puts a yard sign out for the corporate party that is more interested in overseas profits and policing the world than preserving the middle class here at home.

        Embrace the corporate feudalism, where the moneyed-owner class is the monarchy and the government is the clergy that works on their behalf. (You don’t see the feudalism? Why do so many of the knighted serving in the military favor the corporate party.)

  6. Pingback: What’s the Matter With Wisconsin This Time | The Backlink Checker

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