Wisconsin Election Official Confirms Romney Poll Watcher Materials Are Inaccurate

On Tuesday, ThinkProgress reported on how the Romney campaign is training poll watchers to mislead voters in Wisconsin. Now, an election official in the Badger State has weighed in to criticize the Romney campaign’s practice of hiding their poll watchers’ affiliations and confirm that the materials they used in trainings are misleading.

Reid Magney, a spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, spoke with the Washington Post about the story Tuesday and corrected the Romney campaign’s claims:

Pronouncing Election Day observers “the first line of defense” against illegal voting, the primer gives trainees some questionable advice. It says, for example, that convicted felons are ineligible to vote in Wisconsin. Not exactly true, according to Reid Magney, spokesman for the state’s Government Accountability Board, which administers elections. Felons who are out prison and have completed probation can vote, he said.

“Once you have completed the terms of your sentence your voting rights are restored in Wisconsin,” Magney said.

The materials cautioned observers not to assist voters, even though the law says voters can ask for help from anyone.

Magney also criticized the Romney campaign for instructing their poll watchers not to disclose any affiliation with the campaign when they sign in at the polls (they were told to list themselves as a “concerned citizen” instead). “We would hope that people would accurately represent who they are with,” he said, though he added that state would not card people as a means of enforcement.


The Obama campaign has sent a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requesting he open an investigation into the trainings. “These acts of willful misinformation to individuals sent to polling locations to enforce the law raise serious concerns under Wisconsin law,” Bob Bauer, general counsel for the Obama campaign, wrote. “I ask that your office review this matter urgently, and take all necessary steps to protect the rights of our state’s voters.”


Magney told NBC News that “Our plan is to contact the Romney campaign and tell them there are issues” with the material.