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Week in Review: Fraud, elections continue to dominate

By   /   August 5, 2011  /   No Comments

By Wisconsin Reporter

Allegations of fraud swirled in Wisconsin this week, both in the state’s Senate recall campaigns and on the state’s voter registry.

Dead voters

Nearly 1,000 deceased Badger State residents remain active on the Statewide Voter Registration System, according to a Wisconsin Reporter investigation.

The 979 names of probable dead voters in the database comprise roughly .031 percent of the state’s 3.2 million voters. Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, the state’s elections agency, called it a “fairly tight list.”

But election experts say that any number of unauthorized voters present potential fraud concerns.

“We like dead people as much as anyone else; we just don’t think they should be voting,” said Phillips, CEO of Aristotle International Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan voter information tracker.

And government watchdogs allege that the larger concern is the issue of transparency and the high cost of accessing the voter list in Wisconsin.

The GAB charges a top fee of $12,500 for access to the database.

“Quite frankly, the information is ours. It’s public information, and it’s public information for a reason,” said Kristin McMurray, managing editor of Sunshine Review, a nonprofit advocate promoting transparency in state and local government .

Read the complete investigation — and peruse the database — here.

Pasch under fire

Voters in Milwaukee’s heavily Democratic Ward 259 received duplicate absentee ballots from the city’s election officials, according to multiple reports and a signed affidavit. The race there pits state Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, against incumbent state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin demanded an immediate investigation from the Milwaukee County district attorney to “ensure ballot integrity” while reiterating accusations that the Pasch campaign and supporters engaged in illegal coordination and election bribery.

The GOP filed formal charges Tuesday with the Government Accountability Board, the state’s election agency, alleging possible collusion between Pasch and Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Pasch is a board member for the labor-backed special interest group, which dumped tens of thousands of dollars into ad campaigns targeting Darling.

The candidate also shares her campaign treasurer with the nonprofit.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin defended Pasch, saying her campaign had nothing to do with the events.

On Wednesday, GAB’s Magney spokesman, confirmed that the GAB received complaints, but declined to comment further.

Errors admitted to

Organizations on both sides of the political spectrum admitted to making errors in the state Senate recall campaigns.

The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, was responsible for robocalls to voters in the 32nd Senate District, urging residents to vote in elections on the incorrect day.

A spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, the state’s election agency, said the DNC claimed the error was accidental and the calls were stopped immediately.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Democratic Party filed charges with the GAB, claiming that absentee ballot applications mailed out by conservative group Americans for Prosperity were aimed at hampering voter turnout.

The letter, reportedly sent to 10,000 voters in the contested senate districts, erroneously states that absentee ballots would be counted if received at city clerks’ offices by Aug. 11 — two days after the election.

Wisconsin Democrats have asked U.S. Attorney James Santelle to investigate, according to The Associated Press.

Americans for Prosperity has noted the error, calling it a mistake, and said it would contact all recipients and clarify the schedule.

Schools save money

School districts across the state are reporting savings as a result of Gov. Scott Walker’s recently-enacted collective bargaining changes.

In a statement released Monday, the governor said schools across the Badger State have reported savings totaling roughly $220 million, most from districts changing health insurance companies and state workers paying 12.6 percent toward their health-care costs and 5.8 percent toward their retirement.

School districts in Edgerton, Marshfield and Kaukauna were among those anticipating savings. In Kaukauna, the district will go from a $400,000 deficit to a $1.5 million surplus as a result of the change in the collective bargaining law.

Similarly, the Cochrane-Fountain City district anticipates payroll savings of $381,000 annually.