Wis. Get-Out-Vote Calls Create Furor With Wrong Date

Sunday, 31 Jul 2011 08:19 AM

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Robocalls urging residents of Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District to turn out to vote in a recall election raised another specter of dirty tricks in what arguably is the most contentious of several recalls set in the Badger State in August.

Wisconsin, recall, elections, Walker
The recall elections are a continuation of the furor over Gov. Scott Walker's budget, which propelled massive demonstrations at the state Capitol in February and March.
The reason for the outcry: The automated phone calls are telling voters to be sure to head to the polls on Aug. 16. The problem: That would be seven days after the actual election, on Aug. 9.

Several voters from both parties reported receiving calls asking about their preference between incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke and the Democrat trying to oust him in a recall, Rep. Jennifer Shilling, both of La Crosse, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney told the Tribune that the Democratic National Committee acknowledged to election officials Friday that it had initiated the calls but stopped them upon the discovery that the robotic voices were repeating the wrong date.

Although the Kapanke-Shilling election and several other recall votes are set for Aug. 9, two other districts will have recall elections on Aug. 16, all stemming from the furor over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-cutting moves in February and March.

Anger over the cuts, including curbs on public employees’ collective bargaining, propelled massive demonstrations at the state Capitol and prompted recalls against Republicans who supported the measures and Democrats who fled the state to avoid voting on the measures.

It is a crime to mislead voters deliberately, but Magney told the Tribune that the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting such cases is up to local authorities.

Claire Cina of Viola, a Kapanke supporter who received a call pressing the errant date, told the Wisconsin Reporter: “I think it’s deliberate. I feel like it was a deliberate attempt to have people miss the election by a week.”

However, Shilling supporter John Storlie says he also got such a call and is concerned about it. “It may be innocently misinformed,” Storlie said. “Regardless if they’re innocent or malicious — either way, it’s disturbing.”

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