Canvassers Paid to Campaign for Walker; Systemic "Vote Fraud" Claims Still Unsupported

A paid canvasser supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker before the recall election has been implicated in a "voter fraud" allegation. But despite claims by Walker and his allies, there is still no evidence of a systemic effort to fraudulently change election outcomes.

Paid, Pro-Walker Canvassers

Governor Walker has insisted on his strong grassroots support throughout the effort to recall him, even as he depends on unprecedented levels of donations from wealthy out-of-state donors and benefits from secretly-funded ads and bus tours timed to coincide with the election.

Despite Walker's financial support, a CNN reporter embedded with one of the Tea Party bus tours said the rallies "haven't really had the biggest crowds I've seen ... some of them have had as few as 25 people, others have been maybe about 100 or 150 people." Additionally, recent reports indicate that not enough Walker supporters are volunteering for the campaign -- even in Republican-friendly Waukesha County, the GOP has to pay people to canvass on Walker's behalf.

In recent weeks, job postings for canvass workers who "must not have signed the recall petition" have appeared on Craigslist and the temporary hiring agency Seek Careers/Staffing website, offering people $12 to $13 an hour to canvass "neighborhoods in Waukesha county to survey voters about the Scott Walker campaign." Reports have also emerged about some being paid between $100 and $500 to put "Stand with Scott Walker" signs on their property.

Walker got 71.5 percent of Waukesha County's vote in 2010 -- indeed, it is the most solidly Republican county in Wisconsin -- but apparently the GOP can't find enough volunteers in the county to work for Walker without pay.

Reports have recently emerged that a paid canvasser in Waukesha County engaged in questionable election activities.

GOP "Vote Fraud?"

Last week, the election clerk for the City of Delafield (in Waukesha County) reported a suspected case of vote fraud as the result of a paid pro-Walker canvasser going door-to-door in the area and purportedly helping people request absentee ballots. However, at least three people apparently had not been informed what they were signing.

One man who signed the canvasser's form went to vote early, and when confronted about potential double-voting, said he did not know he had requested an absentee ballot. "The guy at the door handed him Walker information and told (the man) the more signatures he got, the more commission he made," said Delafield City Clerk Gina Gresch in an interview with the Lake Country Reporter. When the City Clerk followed up with two other addresses that had requested absentee ballots, the individuals said they had never made such a request.

These "voter fraud" allegations came the same day that Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus claimed that voter fraud by Democrats is so rampant in the state that Republican candidates "need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it." Governor Walker made a nearly identical claim weeks earlier, telling the Weekly Standard that that "there's no question why [liberals] went to court and fought [to undo] voter ID," and claimed fraudulent votes account for "one or two points" in Wisconsin elections. (A Wisconsin court recently declared that the state's new voter ID restrictions placed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.)

Never mind that "one or two points" in an election where 3 million people cast ballots would amount to between 30,000 and 60,000 fraudulent votes, and a year-long, in-depth investigation into the 2008 election in twelve Wisconsin counties by the the state's Republican Attorney General netted just 20 charges.

Vote Fraud Still a Fraud

Priebus and Walker were raising the spectre of voter fraud by Democrats, in areas with high populations of color -- Priebus specifically referenced Milwaukee and Kenosha -- but not in the Republican stronghold of Waukesha County. Regardless of where it happened and by whom, the alleged "voter fraud" in Delafield involved an absentee ballot and would not have been prevented by requiring picture identification at the polls.

Additionally, the Delafield incident may not have been "fraud" at all -- there is no indication that it involved an intentional effort to alter election results, and even if it were, it does not look like part of a systematic effort that could successfully result in tens of thousands of fraudulent votes being counted without detection. It looks more like the result of a paid pro-Walker canvasser getting over-eager in an attempt to earn a buck.

Similarly, almost none of the charges stemming from Wisconsin's investigation into the 2008 elections actually involved "voter fraud," which is defined by the Brennan Center for Justice as a person casting a ballot "despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system." The vast majority of those charges involved felons on parole or probation who cast single ballots in their own name but did not know they were prohibited from voting. Although felon voting constitutes "election fraud" under Wisconsin statutes, it does not meet the more precise definition of "voter fraud." Only two individuals were charged after the 2008 elections with committing the kind of in-person "voter fraud" that stricter identification requirements might prevent.

In an interview with Fox News network, Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves asked Priebus and Walker to apologize to the people of Wisconsin for irresponsibly suggesting that their elections are marked by tens of thousands of fraudulent votes by Democratic voters, despite the Republican Attorney General identifying hardly any fraud after a thorough investigation. CMD is still awaiting a response.


Remember Republican screams of voter fraud against ACORN, put out of business, for similar violations this Republican canvasser pulled? A Republican canvasser had residents sign voter registration forms, but did not tell them what they were signing. He turned them in for the money Pepublicans paid him for each registration he got signed for the Republicans. ACORN also had a couple instances where their people were caught making up names on registrations for the rewards for filing registrations. Those names used were Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, who would never have voted. By law, even fraudulent registrations caught by the organization (signed by Mickey Mouse) must still be submitted to the registration screeners, even if the organization doing the registration drive is aware of the fraud. It is what Republicans used against ACORN to claim they engaged in voter fraud. Now Republicans justify draconian changes to registration requirements because of this massive (1 case) fraud they committed themself. New legislation requiring State photo id's, birth certificates, gun license registrations, but dis-allowed College student picture id's will tend to affect more Democrats than Republicans from being able to vote. Grandmothers with lost birth certificates will be barred from voting. Attaining new required id's can cost upwards of $200.00 to replace and could be considered a poll tax, which is illegal. When did that ever stop the Republican machine? And the invalid registrations were caught at the voting locations, thus negating the need for voting law changes! The current laws are just fine and work very well. Republican campaign tactics effectively scream they can't block Democratic votes without these new laws. Republicans will cheat to win elections and blame Democrats for what Republicans do. It's how Republicans think apparently. If I do it, then so does the opposition. *cough* New Republican voter ID laws do nothing to allow a registrar to discard a fake or invalid "voter registration" form. So what did they accomplish? It would appear Republicans just want to inhibit students, and mostly poor and sick opposition voters from poor neighborhoods from voting for the Democrats. Many of these folks cannot afford a photo id, or may have lost their original birth certificate and can't afford to get a new one. That is the real reason. There is no doubt about it. It's what Republicans do. They have no empathy for the poor, or the sick, or for anyone disagreeing with them on anything, anytime, anywhere. Republicans will stack the deck against the opposition with Billions from corporate backers and laws to diminish opposition voters and make agreements to not allow voting machines be checked because of proprietary laws. We cannot know if they were designed to kick out Democratic voters or not.