Voter fraud worries: Add Wisconsin to the list

By Mark Follman
Published October 14, 2004 8:36PM (UTC)
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As War Room reported yesterday, concerns over GOP-backed suppression tactics and fraud heading into election day reach well beyond the issue's touchstone state of Florida. A Salon reader alerted us to this recent report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, citing vote-fraud concerns, is publicly balking at a City of Milwaukee request for almost 260,000 additional ballots in anticipation of high turnout for the Nov. 2 presidential election.

"Mayor Tom Barrett blasted Walker's stance, and Common Council President Willie Hines Jr. immediately joined in, saying it was an attempt to suppress the central-city vote.

"The flare-up between Barrett and Walker pits two of the most prominent politicians in the Milwaukee area who -- while holding non-partisan offices -- are on opposite sides of the presidential race. Walker, a Republican, is a state co-chair of President Bush's campaign, while Barrett, a Democrat, is state co-chair of the John Kerry campaign. Neither cited those roles in the exchange, but the dispute is playing out against a partisan backdrop in a battleground state."

And you can probably guess what "central-city voters" means.

"More specifically, it involves central-city voters, most of them minorities, thousands of whom have been registered in recent months by voter-registration groups. Those efforts, though non-partisan, are widely viewed as helping the Democrats; Bush drew just 2% in 2000 in Milwaukee's predominantly African-American voting wards."

How does Milwaukee County's Republican Party chairman Doug Haag feel about all this? According to the Journal Sentinel, he questioned why voter-registration groups seem to target only Milwaukee's central city and students on the city's east side, while noting that Wisconsin has same-day registration available.

"Why is there this need to get all these people registered?" Haag said. "If people want to vote, they will vote. If they want to stay in bed and not vote, they don't have to bother."

Now that's the spirit of democracy in action. If you know of any information regarding voter fraud or suppression tactics in your home state, we'd like to know about it -- you can email us at

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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