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Both parties suspect other of deceit in recall elections

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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: August 03, 2011, 04:54:36 pm »

Both parties suspect other of deceit in recall elections
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Both parties suspect other of deceit in recall elections
SCOTT BAUER | Associated Press | (13) Comments | Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 9:00 am building protest file photo&t_url= building protest file photo&t_url= SCHREINER State Journal
A large crowd rallies to protest Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill at the Capitol in this February 2011 file photo.
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The Wisconsin Democratic Party on Tuesday called for an investigation into whether a conservative group tried to suppress turnout in next week's recall elections targeting Republican state senators by telling voters that absentee ballots received a day after election day would be counted.
Meanwhile, elections regulators said the Democratic National Committee promised to stop calling voters in one of the Republicans' districts after it gave some of his constituents the wrong election date in automated calls last week.
With control of the state Senate at stake, the two sides have spent millions in the lead-up to the Aug. 9 recall elections targeting six Senate Republicans and the Aug. 16 elections targeting two Democrats. Retaining GOP control of both legislative chambers would allow Republican Gov. Scott Walker to continue to advance his conservative agenda unimpeded, while a net gain of three seats would give Democrats control of the Senate and a check on the governor's power.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party filed a complaint Monday with the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, alleging that absentee ballot applications mailed out by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that has spent heavily to help the Republicans, were intended to suppress turnout. And on Tuesday, state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate sent a request for an investigation to U.S. Attorney James Santelle. His office declined to comment on the matter.
The mailing, which the group says was sent to about 10,000 voters in the six Republican senators' districts, states that absentee ballots received the Thursday before the election will be counted, which is accurate. But in a section that gives step-by-step instructions, the letter states that ballots received before Aug. 11 by city clerks would be counted.
Americans for Prosperity state director Matt Seaholm said Tuesday that a typo was to blame for the error and he called the complaints over the mailing frivolous.
"You see this all the time at the end of an election, people trying to make a headline out of something," he said.
Seaholm said his group only sent the absentee ballot applications to people who signed up for its mailing list, including some Democrats.
"We want to make sure they get out and vote, that's the whole point of this," he said.
Two Democrats who received the AFP mailing and live in the districts of Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls and Rob Cowles of Allouez also filed complaints with the elections board.
"I believe I was targeted by this Republican group because I am a Democrat and a senior citizen," Charles E. Schultz, of Hudson, wrote in his complaint. Schultz told The Associated Press he is an active Democrat and a liberal and has no idea how he would have gotten onto the AFP mailing list.
Seaholm said there were supposed to be separate mailings for the Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 elections, and that each was to list the different deadlines on which ballots must be received. But he said the letters that went to the six Republican districts were not caught before they were sent. Aug. 11 is the deadline for requesting ballots for the Aug. 16 elections, and ballots will be counted if received by election day.
Americans for Prosperity is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads in support of the Republican candidates. The group was founded by billionaire conservative activists David and Charles Koch.
On the Democratic side, the DNC was placing robocalls last week to voters in Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke's western Wisconsin district urging them to vote in the election, but wrongly gave the date as Aug. 16.
Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, said once the DNC was contacted and told of the error they told election officials the calls would stop. A spokesman for the DNC did not immediately return a message Tuesday.
The date errors in both the calls and the absentee ballot applications spurred the GAB to urge voters to be cautious in the days leading up to the election. While it is legal for groups to send absentee ballot applications to voters, accountability board director Kevin Kennedy said anyone who wishes to vote absentee should contact local election officials and not rely on mailings they may receive.
The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail is the Thursday before the election. Voters can cast absentee ballots in person up until the Friday before the election and they can be returned by mail up until election day.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted in Elections on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 9:00 am Updated: 9:59 am. Recall Elections, Government Accountability Board, Mike Tate, James Santelle, Americans For Prosperity, Matt Seaholm, Reid Magney, Kevin Kennedy,

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