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EXCLUSIVE: Romney Campaign Training Poll Watchers To Mislead Voters In Wisconsin

By Scott Keyes  

"EXCLUSIVE: Romney Campaign Training Poll Watchers To Mislead Voters In Wisconsin"

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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, eight such trainings were held across the state in the past two weeks and 17 since late September.

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 distributed 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.

Here are the documents in full:

Romney Volunteer Observer Training

Update

This post originally stated that it was incorrect for Wisconsin residents to be asked for photo ID at the polls. The state’s photo ID law was indeed struck down and is not in place for this election, but for Wisconsin voters who want to register on Election Day, one of the possible proof of residency documents is an identification card that must have a photo on it. (Non-photo documents are also accepted, such as a bank statement or a pay stub.) We have updated the post to correct the error.

Update

After publishing this story, the original links to the Romney campaign’s schedule of poll watcher trainings was changed to private. We have added new links from other Republican sites that show the training schedule in full.

‹ Justiceline: October 30, 2012

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