No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Milwaukee Police Department in favor of voter ID, no same-day registration

by @ 16:39 on February 26, 2008. Filed under Elections, Politics - Milwaukee, Politics - Wisconsin.

I’m a bit late to the party, as Brian, Charlie, Fred, Owen and Jim Geraghty have already jumped all over MPD’s Special Investigations Unit’s report on the November 2004 election, released this morning. The troubling part is that the entire election apparatus in Milwaukee fouled things up so much, it was nigh impossible to prosecute any individual participating in vote fraud. That goes to something John Washburn noted a while back (paraphrase because I can’t find the exact post right now): it’s the entire system, not individual cases.

Speaking of the system, I’ll repost the recommendations from the SIU (page 26 of the report), interjecting where necessary:

It is the opinion of the Task Force investigators that more than any other recommendation we could make, our investigation has concluded that the one thing that could eliminate a large percentage of fraud or the appreance of fraudulent voting in any given Election is the elimination of the On-Site or Same Day voter registration system. It is the opinion of the Task Force investigators that given the inability of Election Inspectors to check the eligibility of voters (e.g. felons) or in other cases the reluctance of Election Inspectors to check the eligibility of a voter (e.g. verification of information on cards), on the day of any election, there is no other way to ensure that only eligible voters are voting on Election Day. It is our opinion that as it relates to not only the irregularities encountered with the 1305 ‘un-entered’ cards, but with the 2004 Election overall, a time period for the verification of registering voters prior to any Election must be included to ensure that the person registering is an eligible voter. If a verification period would be provided to the Election Commission before any Election, the majority of the problems detailed in this report would not have existed.

That last assumption is assuming, of course, the Election Commission is interested in honest elections. The facts do not exactly support that assumption. I’ll repeat one particularily-troubling item from that paragraph – “…in other cases the reluctance of Election Inspectors to check the eligibility of a voter….”

As it relates to felons, a verification period would have allowed Election Commission employees to check those potential voters registering with an up to date list that could be provided by the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections. If this would have been done and those persons who are in the Ward book would only be permitted to vote, felons who are ineligible would not have been included.

Again, that assumes that the Election Commission is interested in honest elections. The good news here is that eventually the state-run voter registration list, with a tie to a list from the Department of Corrections, will be online. The bad is, at last check, it isn’t.

Where the “Not in City” voters are concerned, the same verification period would have allowed to (sic) the Election Commission to do the same thing that the Task Force was able to do: confirm or deny that the registering voter was or was not a City of Milwaukee resident. This system would have registered eligible voters mistakenly omitted by the Election Commission, such as the Appleton Avenue family. All members of this family will have to re-register before voting again. This verification period also would have informed those voters who were simply mistakenly voting in Milwaukee that they are not voting in the proper Ward. But, most important, a verification period could have stopped someone such as the ineligible Chicago resident fromvoting in the City of Milwaukee and now will be eligible to cast future, unchallenged, votes.

I’ll note that the Appleton Ave. family’s story is found on page 15. I am familiar with that area of Milwaukee, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how the Election Commission determined that the 11000 block of W. Appleton Ave. (approximately 6200 north), which is just over a half-mile northeast of that family’s previous residence and about 7/8 mile as the crow flies and over a mile as the car drives inside city limits, is not part of the city of Milwaukee.

That episode also points out a potential problem with the statewide voter registration list. If city of Milwaukee employees can’t determine an address is in the city of Milwaukee when there is no doubt an address is in the city, how is a state employee in Madison going to tell that, say, 7121 W. Bluemound Rd. is in Wauwatosa and 7129 W. Bluemound Rd. is in Milwaukee, or in which city the residents at 7125 W. Bluemound Rd. should vote (both Milwaukee and Wauwatosa have tax records with 7125 W. Bluemound Rd. as the address of record).

That example is of a block that was developed and had its city limits locked decades ago. I won’t even go into areas with new construction, like Oak Creek, or in areas where annexation of parcels is still possible.

As an alternative, if On-Site registration is to continue in its present form, then the presentation of a government issued identification card that includes the voter’s name, address (including city) and date of birth should be presented before that person is allowed to register and vote. The inclusion of identifcation alternatives such as a credit card bill, library card, lease, etc., where no photo is provided, does not ensure that the person presenting these types of documents is in fact the person they are asserting to be.

Why merely an alternative to ending same-day registration?

In the absence of any substantive change, it is recommended that the Election Inspectors be provided with adequate training and resources to ensure that they are not allowing persons who live outside of the City of Milwaukee to vote.

Again, that speaks to the apparent lack of interest on the part of the Election Commission to run honest elections. Given that each polling place includes a rather small section of the city, it should not take a lot of training to check addresses given by new registrants against a list of streets and address ranges to determine whether that address is plausible.

The investigators further recommend that after every election, the City of Milwaukee Election Commission fulfill its mandated responsibility to report those occurrences where persons may have violated Wisconsin State Statutes to the Milwaukee County District Attorney.

I believe mhking has the right phrase for this smackdown – “Just damn.” Of course, it also assumes that the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office has a serious interest in honest elections, and history has shown that it doesn’t under the leadership of both former DA E. Michael McCann (known around these parts as McCan’t) and current DA John Chisholm.

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