According to documents obtained by Think Progress, the Romney campaign provided training packets to their polls watchers in a total of 17 similar training sessions across the state since September 17th.
For example, page 5 of the Romney training packet tells poll watchers that individuals convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote in Wisconsin, as shown in the image below.
Here is what the state’s law has to say on the question. (my emphasis)
If a person is disqualified from voting under s. 6.03 (1) (b), his or her right to vote is restored when he or she completes the term of imprisonment or probation for the crime that led to the disqualification. The department or, if the person is sentenced to a county jail or house of correction, the jailer shall inform the person in writing at the time his or her right to vote is restored under this subsection.
According to the Government Accountability Board’s website:
You are not eligible to vote in Wisconsin if you have been convicted of a felony and you are currently serving any portion of your sentence.
Once you successfully complete your sentence and are no longer under the supervision of the Department of Corrections (“off paper”) your voting rights are restored, and you regain your eligibility to vote.
If you are in jail serving a misdemeanor sentence or awaiting trial, you are still eligible to vote — usually by absentee ballot. (My emphasis)
Page 3 of the packet encourages poll watchers to deceive election workers and the public regarding the fact that they are working for the Romney campaign.
As shown in the image above, the packet instructs Romney poll watchers to sign in “concerned citizens.” As Romney’s legal counsel Kristina Sesek explained: “We’re just trying to alleviate some of the animosity of being a Republican observer up front.”
Perhaps if Republicans would tell the truth every now and then, there would be honest disagreement, but no animosity.
Perhaps if Republicans spent more time on developing sound policies and less time suppressing the vote, the electorate would accept or reject their ideas, but would not have animosity toward Republicans and their poll watchers.
Then there is that pesky little matter of what the law requires.
Any member of the public intending to exercise the right to observe an election under s. 7.41.Stats., shall notify the chief inspector of that intent upon entering the voting area of a polling place. The observers shall sign a form acknowledging they understand the applicable rules and will abide by them. The observers shall also list their full name, street address and municipality, and the name of the organization or candidate the observer represents, if any, on the form.
The training packet also leaves out some informed accepted under Wisconsin law to prove residency. Here is what the packet says on page 8.
However, the list fails to mention that homeless voters can prove residency with an affidavit from a public or private social services agency. This matters when you consider the Willard’s poll watchers are also encouraged to “challenge” the voter’s right to exercise their franchise.
Voters who provide proof of residency documents that are legal but are excluded from Willard’s list will be challenged, as per the Training packet’s instructions on pages 4 and 13.
The Romney observers were also given incorrect information when it comes to people who use “curbside voting”. Page 10 of the training packet claims: “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.”
Compare that information with what the Government Accountability Board says: “Proof of residence must be provided if you are not registered. (my emphasis)”
Also on Page 10 of the Romney training packet.
In fact, voters may ask for assistance from anyone, including election observers and poll watchers.
The restrictions on voter contact under sub. 17 shall not be construed to prevent any observer from assisting an elector under s. 6.82, Stats., provided that the elector requests the observer’s assistance, and the observer meets the other requirements of s. 6.82, Stats.
Armed with this misinformation, Romney poll watchers have the potential to create havoc. If they try to enforce Romney’s rules, eligible voters will be wrongfully challenged, long lines will be made longer and some voters could be discouraged from voting. This would create the sort of animosity Romney’s legal counsel believes can be alleviated by encouraging poll workers to deceive Election Officials as well as the voting public.
It isn’t like this is the first time the Romney campaign resorted to deception. The difference this time lies in encouraging their poll watchers to be Romney’s little liars.
Image from DonkeyHotey on Flickr