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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vote-suppressing, Pro-Hillary Group Operated in Wisconsin

via MAL Contends

A voter-suppression group operating in North Carolina, exposed in the journal Facing South (see also Talking Points Memo), was operating in Wisconsin before its primary on Feb. 19 as part a national voter deception strategy targeting black households and those likely to vote against Sen. Clinton.

And with the same apparent motive: To suppress voter turnout and minimize the margin of an expected Clinton defeat.

The story, broken by Chris Kromm, and aired on CNN, exhibits another example of Hillary Clinton borrowing from the Karl Rove playbook; and Hillary can expect a serious backlash.

Writes Kromm:

Who's behind the mysterious 'robo-calls' that have spread misleading voter information and sown confusion and frustration among North Carolina residents over the last week?

Facing South has confirmed the source of the calls, and the mastermind is Women's Voices Women Vote, a D.C.-based nonprofit which aims to boost voting among 'unmarried women voters.'

What's more, Facing South has learned that the firestorm Women's Voices has ignited in North Carolina isn't the group's first brush with controversy. Women's Voices' questionable tactics have spawned thousands of voter complaints in at least 11 states and brought harsh condemnation from some election officials for their secrecy, misleading nature and likely violations of election law. ...

In Wisconsin, state officials singled out Women's Voices for misleading and possibly disenfranchising voters, stating in a press release [PDF]: 'One group in particular -- Women's Voices. Women Vote, of Washington, D.C. -- apparently ignored or disregarded state deadlines in seeking to register voters,' sending in registrations past the January 30 deadline and causing 'hundreds of Wisconsin voters who think they registered in advance' to actually not be. ...

... Bob Hall at Democracy North Carolina said in a statement:
'This is another in a long line of deceptive practices used in North Carolina and elsewhere that particularly target African-American voters. In our view, this phone message plainly violates North Carolina law. We ask the Attorney General, State Bureau of Investigation, and the State Board of Elections to investigate, expose, and prosecute the sponsors of these calls.'


[UPDATE by folkbum: The WVWV response; perspective from Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers; and note my official skepticism that there was any tie between the Clinton campaign and WVWV, as that would be both fairly easy to prove and so incredibly illegal.]

Update II: See WVWV staff bios and Kos by stefanielaine for additional Clinton connections; also see DKos, Women's Voices has not answered our investigation: ["First, it's important to note that Gardner's statement in no ways refutes, or even addresses, any of the basic facts put forward by our investigation."]. Let the stonewalling begin.

Via Kos by stefanielaine

(John Podesta) actually responded, which I didn't expect, though his response was less than satisfying:

Podesta:
Believe me, you were no more shocked than I was. WVWV has a strong record of registering disenfranchised people so that they can participate in the political process. Over 400,000 in this cycle. With respect to North Carolina, remedial action is being undertaken. While I believe the calling program there was a mistake of judgment and execution, and not an attempt to disenfranchise voters, as a board member, I have asked for a full accounting of the circumstances of the North Carolina events.


stefanielaine

It's great that he's asked for "a full accounting of the circumstances," but seriously, I don't understand thinking this is all a big coincidence. So, my response: Thanks for responding, John. I'm glad to hear that you've requested an accounting of what's happening in North Carolina but frankly North Carolina is just the tip of the iceberg - WVWV has apparently executed similar "lapses in judgment" in Virginia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas, usually immediately before those states' primaries. I have an incredibly difficult time believing this is anything less than voter disenfranchisement - if their intentions were good, why wouldn't WVWV identify themselves on the call? Why target black voters? Why use a fictitious identity for the call, and why else use the name Lamont, if not to immediately establish the caller's racial identity? Why choose the week before an election to suggest to these (largely black) voters that they may not be registered to vote? From my perspective, the odds of all these factors being coincidental is virtually nill. But I look forward to the full accounting, which I hope you will encourage WVWV to make public.
Thank you. Stef

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