October 20, 2004
Wisconsin Prisoners Voting
One would expect government officials to care about possible voter fraud. That's not the case in Dane and Racine Counties when it comes to prisoners in their jails.
In Wisconsin, one cannot vote if they're serving a sentence including parole. Those serving time in jail for misdemeanors can still vote. The NAACP is setting up prisoners with absentee ballots. The problem is no one is checking to make sure the prisoners are eligible. Sharon Christensen a Madison deputy city clerk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "If they fill out the form and they sign it, they are stating they meet the eligibility requirements. If someone knows different, they could challenge that on election day." Madison, a strong Democratic enclave, is taking the word of convicted criminals. The city government will make no effort to ensure the legitimacy of the vote.
Rick Graber, Wisconsin GOP chairman, was correct when he said, "If this is not being monitored, if people are not closely watching this, people who are not allowed to vote will be given the right to vote."
Critics could claim that the possibility for this kind of voter fraud is slim. However, the Journal Sentinel reports differently:
A Journal Sentinel investigation after the 2000 presidential election found that at least 361 felons voted while they were still under state supervision in Milwaukee. Three men were charged with illegal voting after the stories ran, but those charges were later dismissed after prosecutors were unable to prove the three knew it was illegal for felons to vote.
"NAACP Defends Its Effort to Register Voters in Jails"
Kudos go to Tom Held and Tom Kertscher for working on this story. I'm as guilty as most of the blogosphere for ripping on the media at the drop of a hat (or fake memo). When good, important investigation is done, it should be praised.