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WI recall reveals flaws in early absentee voting

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Minnesota isn't the only state with problems surrounding close election results.

While many hosts on MSNBC and other liberal "news" pundits make hay about State Senator Lena Taylor's catchy soundbite, "Alberta, Walker's Darling," credible investigators should be looking into her follow up comments regarding absentee ballots.

During the live continuous coverage of the Wisconsin recall election results, MSNBC host Ed Schultz asked Senator Taylor her thoughts on absentee ballots in Milwaukee. Taylor insisted that the Darling/Pasch results could not be considered valid until the absentee ballots had been counted. Schultz asked how many she thought were "out there." Taylor said she wasn't sure exactly how many there are but she knew "they brought 700 people to early voting."

The camera quickly moved from Taylor to the raucous crowd behind her and Schultz turned his questioning to another guest on the panel, failing to issue a follow up question to Taylor about her revealing statement. Who brought 700 people to early voting? Who were the 700 early voters? In a state that technically doesn't have "early voting," what did she mean? How is she associated with the group?

A spokesperson from Senator Taylor's office said today that the senator was referring to a group called Playground Legends from northern Milwaukee. He clarified that there were actually more than 1100 absentee ballots from that area that the group had helped to gather during the two week time period prior to election day. The Milwaukee Elections Commissions allows county clerks to distribute and collect absentee ballots during normal working hours for 2 weeks prior to an election.

Essentially how the system works, according to Taylor's spokesperson, is as follows. The Playground Legends volunteers pick up voters in their van, drive them to the [Municipal] Clerk's office and the voters request absentee ballots. They then proceed to fill out the ballots on the spot and turn them in before catching a ride back home with the PL van.

It is unclear whether or not The Playground Legends assists voters in filling out their absentee ballots.

According to a source who prefers to remain anonymous working in a neighboring clerk's office, it is common knowledge that groups similar to Playground Legends bring in van loads of voters for absentee voting because there is very little verification of eligibility or oversight of ballots during the 2 weeks prior to election day, though there is a statewide procedure in place.

The Milwaukee Elections commission has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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CORRECTION:

The following email from Reid Magney, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board which administers elections in the state, was received August 11, 2011.

"In-person absentee voting (AKA early voting) in Wisconsin is handled by municipal clerks, not county clerks, and has the same or higher security measures as voting at the polling place on Election Day, in that the voter must fill out an absentee ballot application form and have it witnessed by the clerk. The ballot is then sealed in an envelope and held until Election Day, when it can be challenged just like any other voter's ballot at the polling place. Absentee voting procedures are uniform across the state. Groups and individuals are allowed to give voters rides to the clerks office and the polls. They are not allowed to assist the voters at the clerk's office or polling place."

I apologize for any errors posted as a result of my conversation with Senator Taylor's spokesperson.

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Voter fraud is clearly an issue that will need to be addressed to ensure the legitimacy of elections across the country. Here in Minnesota, especially considering the voucher system's flaws, voter fraud continues to make headlines. Read more here: 2008 Voter fraud still an issue and here: Voter ID takes another step forward

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