Friday, September 12, 2008

Misleading absentee ballots sent by McCain campaign

This smells interesting and potentially ridiculous: reports are coming in from various people, mostly registered Democrats in mostly purple states, it seems, who've been getting absentee ballot registration forms sent to them in the mail by the McCain campaign. Only, all kinds of the information on these applications is wrong and/or misleading.

Here's what we're seeing so far, per Lee Rayburn's show this morning and a few select blogs who've been following the story:
Many people, all registered democrats here in Southern Wisconsin, have been sent a form in the mail from the John McCain campaign, full of "Country First" slogans. It includes 2 requests for absentee ballots in the envelope. It includes an addressed envelope to send it back to the city clerk.

The problem is, that the address of the city clerk is not in the right voting district. For example, the people living in Middleton, Wisconsin (a suburb of Madison) have an envelope to send back to the Madison City Clerk. This, in the best circumstance, would mean an administrative nightmare for the Madison County Clerk, meaning she would have to forward the application to the Middleton City Clerk. At worst, people would either not get their absentee ballot in the mail, or again, would have the wrong city clerk address. If this occurred, the vote, sent to the wrong clerk, would be voided.
And then this, from
Another caller from Detroit. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida: That's where the absentee ballots are being sent to Obama voters. Add Missouri to that, per one of our commenters.

California caller from registrar's office: McCain should take the application for absentee and submit within 3 days. But the applications will most likely be held for the 3 days and "die". They'll most likely submit the Republican ones, and throw away the Democratic ones.

The return address for the request card goes to the wrong city clerk office address, per Rayburn.

Michigan caller: Wrong home address, and then, wrong city clerk address on the one he got. He donated to Obama, but not a Democrat, so he wonders if that's how they found him.
Voter caging, unfortunately, happens on all sides of the political spectrum, and isn't always directly connected to the candidates themselves. So while I'm absolutely furious that people sent these misleading, potentially harmful ballots out at all--regardless of if it was through malice or incompetence--I will be keeping my nose to the ground in an attempt to find out more about this before passing final judgment on the McCain campaign (for this episode, at least).

At this point, though, this seems like a story worth some media attention, so I'll be curious to see who, if anyone, picks up on it.

More in the comments section here.

If anyone has gotten one of these in the mail, or knows anything about it, please feel free to mention it in the comments or email me at lostalbatross AT - thanks!

UPDATE 1: The only mention of this in the regular news that I've been able to find comes from Ohio, where the faulty McCain absentee ballot registration forms have now caused some 750 of them to be deemed invalid by the state. I'm still seeing a lot of people in comments section noting that they got these, and all of them seem to mention something being wrong on the damn thing.

UPDATE 2: It's trickling in from everywhere, but still deserves more coverage, I think - this small story from WDBJ7 in Roanoke, VA mentions that their State Board of Elections "will follow up with the mailer to see if it's an isolated incident." Hit the webs! It's happening all over the place.

UPDATE 3: A tip from a source who wishes to remain unnamed tells me that both she and her husband, registered Democrats each, received these absentee ballot mailers--and that, though they live in Madison, the ballots were addressed to the town clerk of Menomenee. Neither of them have ever "set foot" there, apparently.

Also, got my hands on scans of the mailer itself, for your perusal (thanks GT!):

(click for big)


Anonymous said...

You should put this on Kos and MyDD.

Emily said...

It's already up on Kos (see links), but I'm not sure what MyDD is?

Michael Donnelly said...

Man, that crap is offensive. I can't even think about it too much or I get a little crazy.

Forward Our Motto said...

Wisconsin doesn't have voter registration by party. Not that there aren't other ways of ID'ing people and I don't especially trust the GOP at the moment after Van Hollen's lawsuit.

Emily said...

FOM - Interesting, because all the reports I've been reading are from registered Democrats, both in Wisconsin and the various other states where these have gone out. I wouldn't doubt that there's another way of finding and targeting these folks other than state databases, though.

Then again, maybe Republicans who've been getting them just aren't speaking up?

Anonymous said...

We live in Wisconsin and are registered democrats. My wife received one of these McCain absentee ballot mailings on Thursday, September 11. At first, I considered sending the two absentee ballot requests in on my son and daughter's behalf, because they're both away at college. On second thought, I decided to shred them because I didn't trust the source of the mailing. If, in fact, these ballot requests were designed to intentionally disqualify legitimate voters, I find this tactic extremely unethical, if not illegal.

Anonymous said...

This is just unreal, I wonder how we can make the American people aware so they can make informed an decision and vote OBAMA. You might not agree with everything he says but you know he will listen to YOU. This just shows how McCain doesn't want to hear from you, he knows who his buddies are!

Mom101 said...

'm also following this and it's huge. It needs to be out there.

But the Ohio story is different - they actually sent the faulty 1mm ballots to republicans. Duh.

Here's a link to an Air America interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer journalist clarifying the story.

Emily said...

Thanks for all the comments and input about this. Seems like the press is actually picking up on it (to a degree), but its all still in the investigative stage. That's good--at least people are looking.

The Chicago Tribute

The Wisconsin State Journal

The Capital Times

Anonymous said...

I received a vote-by-mail app addressed to a woman that shares my last name. Even though I live in Middleton and am registered here, this app was sent to me from the Ohio Republican Party, the first state I was ever registered to vote in.

Emily said...

No perfect lists, no joke.

Anonymous said...

I just got one of these fraudulent ballot applications. What can I do about it? I want to report it, but i can't find any information on how to go about doing that.

Emily said...

Depending on where you live, I'd recommend reporting it to your city clerk. City Clerk of Madison.

The Lost Albatross