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A Wis. Call for GOP Poll Watchers Draws National Notice

By Mary Pat Flaherty
The Wisconsin Republican Party has issued a call for volunteer poll watchers for Election Day, and the criteria is a little specific, seeking especially folks made of sterner stuff.

Jonathan Waclawski, the party's election day operations, wrote in a Sept. 8 e-mail that he needed contact information for people "who would potentially be willing to volunteer ... at inner city (more intimidating) polling places. Particularly, I am interested in names of Milwaukee area veterans, policemen, security personnel, firefighters etc. ... If you have any connections with such organizations, please pass that information on."

The e-mail fell into the hands of an Obama supporter, who passed it to the Obama campaign, who released it today after a news conference with its campaign director and general counsel, who discussed voter registration, voter education and voter protection.

The Obama team pointed to Waclawski's e-mail as ground-level tactics that could create concerns among voters.

"This is much ado about nothing. I don't see anything wrong with this," said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman with the Wisconsin GOP. "Intimidating was referring to the polling places, not to poll watchers who would be intimidating," she said. "The way I read this we are looking for people to go to intimidating places.

"We are not going to send an 80-year-old woman from the suburbs, who has been making calls for us, into the city where she is not used to driving, not used to parking, not used to finding her way," Kukowski said. "It is an incredible leap to say from what is in that e-mail that we are looking for big people at the polls. No way does it say that."

She said the release of the e-mail was an attempt by the Obama campaign to draw attention away from voter registration fraud problems.The Democrats had said earlier in the day that the GOP focus on such problems were intended to draw attention away from efforts to tamp down turnout.

The categories of people solicited in that e-mail, Kukowski said, "know the city and are more prepared to be working under those circumstances."

The party needs poll watchers in every county, she said, "and we reach out to everybody." She said she did not know how many poll workers volunteered after the e-mail went out.

"I'm very surprised the Obama campaign would give this out," Kukowski said. "But that is good to know."

Posted at 9:08 PM ET on Oct 14, 2008  | Category:  Battlegrounds
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So, if you sign up, where do you go to get your brown shirt?

Posted by: ginn1 | October 17, 2008 8:45 AM

It’s time for everyone to be honest and realistic. As a young woman, I would not want to be placed at an inner city location which may require me to travel alone. Yes, it is intimidating. The email did not explicitly state "black people" so please stop jumping to conclusions here. Low-income urban settings are different and can make a person uncomfortable which is why this email was perfectly inline. I would even bet MR. Obama-rama would testify to this. Once his daughters grow up, would he in fact want them to travel alone to volunteer in the inner city? I would guess probably not. So bloggers and fellow readers, acknowledge that this isn't a big deal and only pays respect to individual comfort levels. Why should volunteers be asked to work in environments which cause them to personally question their safety? I actually give tremendous credibility to the foresight of Mr. Waclawski and the consideration he has for his volunteers. Cheers! And shame on you Wash. Post. You should know better journalism…

Posted by: jn88 | October 16, 2008 5:11 PM

What kind of crap is this?

"The e-mail fell into the hands of an Obama supporter, who passed it to the Obama campaign, who released it today after a news conference with its campaign director and general counsel, who discussed voter registration, voter education and voter protection."

Is this what passes for journalism at WaPo now? This is nothing but smear. Someone, somewhere got an e-mail, supposedly from a ranking state GOP official, who passed it on to the Obama campaign (which everyone knows is pure as the driven snow).

Wow.

There's an ellipses in the middle for cryin' out loud. Where's the original? And this has now been picked up everywhere. I guess you accomplished your purpose.

Posted by: owininga | October 16, 2008 12:46 AM

Is this the beginning of goon squads with leather jackets and bats at precincts to make sure our right to vote is protected?

Posted by: ffmont | October 15, 2008 8:55 PM

It's astonishing that time marches on and the GOP stands still, pulling out the same old, tired bag of tricks year after year, as if their shenanigans weren't completely transparent and reeking of bias. What they call "voter fraud" is actually projection of their outrage at the fact that people dwelling in inner cities, particularly the poor or ethnic, have the right to vote. "Not easily intimidated" means intimidating and listing law enforcement and vets as possible candidates for the jobs has an equally unattractive subtext, implying that such people are naturally members of the party and willing to use the skills they've acquired to harass voters, as if they were criminals. Hopefully, responsible members of those professions will see through the subtext and continue doing public service, not catering to the prejudice of politicians.

Posted by: Koko3 | October 15, 2008 4:48 PM

Is it politically correct to say
there is some Rough Neighborhoods
in Milwaukee;
Well brotha'
whether is be correct or not,
come to amerika 2008'
baby,
and feel free to come
as you are'
heavy be and dragging
chains...

Posted by: USA3 | October 15, 2008 4:23 PM

See a McCain rally go bad, Booing and People leaving. A song Hank Williams sang was vulgar and offended some. Heres the clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPOpP89oMik

Who won the Best Palin Impersonator Contest? Not Tina Fey. See Clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMebGbcC2Sg

Posted by: pastor123 | October 15, 2008 3:04 PM

The Grand Old Panic[GOP] just won't give up. They will try anything to steal this election. But they are running scared now because they can't do it as easily as they did it in the last two elections.OBAMA has gotten their number, and is too smart to be beaten by such dumb crooks.

Posted by: pokeymompokey | October 15, 2008 2:27 PM

'Intimidating places?'

First, someone from a rural area would know if an address is in Milwaukee or another large area and wouldn't need the 'help' to decide whether to go there. This is nothing against large cities, though I can see where those from small towns - possibly bred on the GOP's fear mongering - may not be open to the diversity of large cities.

Second, I take 'intimidating places' as a code for class/socio-economic status warfare. Almost like Hailey Joel Osmot 'saw dead people' the writer of the GOP email was 'warning' of people of a variety of backgrounds.
To write and distribute this is one thing, but to defend it or pass it off as normal is worse.

For those who say 'nothing to see here,' it may be wise to open your eyes and ears and listen to the difficulties experienced by those down the block, on the other side of town, etc.
Thanks to W. and the other de-regulators, economic problems are not now nor were they ever soley a problem of minorities, large cities, and the like.

Its time to stop electing oil barrons, people who own at least 7 homes, and that bemoan entitlements but avail themselves of them early and often.

Posted by: crazy4glf | October 15, 2008 1:08 PM

Oh, and don't forget your large dogs and tasers/riot shields/batons/pepper spray/body armor. In fact, show the voters how proud you are to be an American and show up in uniform!

Those who think this is simply the Obama camp misreading an email are either very gullible and superficial readers or unable to think about the consequences of a given action.

Curiously, we don't know how much MORE Jonathan Waclawski asked of those individuals who did respond. I pray for the safety of our nation and in particular the cities of Wisconsin that the above items I mention in jest were never brought up in future correspondence between Mr. Waclawski and the volunteers who replied to this message.

As other posters have observed - why didn't the WI Republican Party just ask for people's ages and a self-assessment of fitness? The reason is almost certainly that intimidation IS the purpose of a request worded in this fashion.

Posted by: wfitzwi | October 15, 2008 12:26 PM

Typical Republican attempts to disenfranchise poor people.

Posted by: dpc2003 | October 15, 2008 12:24 PM

ha ha. The O. camp is looking pretty stupid to cry about this. Shows they can not read nor comprehend and are eager to cry about anything.

Grow up.

Posted by: dweyenbe | October 15, 2008 11:47 AM

BRADLEY EFFECT + ?ABLE ELECTRONIC VOTING = 2000 REDUX?

Obama needs to be aggressive tonight and NOT just sit on his "lead" -- because there may be no lead at all by Election Day.

Today's Politico lead story indicates that the Rev. Wright issue will be resurrected in McCain TV advertising... alongside of Rezko, Ayers and ACORN.


If McCain goes the "guilt by association" route, Obama should bring up the Alaska Independence Party; Todd Palin's membership in a group that advocates seccession from the U.S.; its founder's anti-American statements; and ask the question:

"Is your running mate Sarah Palin palling around with someone who pals around with enemies of the state?

If Obama lays back, he could see his lead diminish as the "fear factor" takes hold -- as it always seems to do in the waning days of recent presidential campaigns.

ARE THE McCAIN-PALIN CROWD AGITATORS THE SAME STORMTROOPERS WHO DO THIS:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/american-gestapo-state-supported-terrorism-targets-u-s-citizens

What if McCain's real strategy is aimed NOT at voters, but at the apparachik?

McCAIN-PALIN'S 'FELLOW TRAVELER' INSINUATIONS:
WHAT IF U.S. SECURITY FORCES AGREE?

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/mccain-palins-fellow-traveler-insinuations-what-if-u-s-security-forces-agree
OR members.nowpublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 15, 2008 11:42 AM

What I don't understand is, don't all polling places have its workers in place? Why is that even necessary?

Posted by: Obama2008 | October 15, 2008 11:31 AM

Palin is helping to ramp up the base with phony voter fraud claims:

http://liesliesmorelies.blogspot.com/2008/10/palin-spreading-voter-fraud-claims.html

Posted by: Snakeheader | October 15, 2008 10:59 AM

Listen,
I'm all for Obama.

But I agree with the interpretation that this email is about intimidating places, not people. Though I can still see the Repubs using tough people like cops to scare away would-be voters, I think this is actually them saying "there are some dodgy places in Milwaulkee (and there are, lots) we need people who arent' afraid to man the polls there."

There's nothing inherently wrong with that. I would say its a little disingenuous of the Obama campaign to say the repubs are looking for intimidating people. Even if they are, this email does not suggest that.

Posted by: Nemotoad | October 15, 2008 10:49 AM

Proof that GOP is afraid of poor people.

DISGUSTING!

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 15, 2008 10:27 AM

Well, it didn't take long before Godwin's Law struck on this line of postings, did it?

Posted by: PolSciWatcher | October 15, 2008 9:46 AM

It is absolutely about voter suppression. These people I swear to God are so ignorant of their words and their actions, they fail to understand history at a time when we need to the most. Why police officers, firefighters? Why not just anyone? Why did they specify jobs in which the requirements of the job need for them to be strong, robust, and intimidating?
People, I have had enough of this crap from the bullies. Its time to push back. Those of you that can vote early to avoid these less than civilized propagandists I hope will. But if they think we're going quietly into that "good night" without challenging who they think they get their authority from.....this year is a whole new ball game.
Voter suppression is a tactic that will not be tolerated by a civilized society. If you can't lose amicably, its going to turn ugly and I have no sorrow for the racists that will make it so.

Posted by: SYWanda | October 15, 2008 9:34 AM

Is another part of the job requirement to have a brown shirt and an appropriate arm band?

Might as well, the Republican party seems to be seeking a way to fascism. Why not go the rest of the way?

Posted by: clgrafton24 | October 15, 2008 8:33 AM

Rove has rigged the election. Democrats need big margin to overcome. See democracynow.org or StealBackYourVote.org.

Posted by: rooster54 | October 15, 2008 5:34 AM

John McCain has Hank Williams preform at his rally, Foul language and vulgar lyrics makes people boo and leave. watch clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPOpP89oMik

Watch the debate tonight, then participate in a national poll, on the issues, at
http://www.watchdebate.com

Posted by: pastor123 | October 15, 2008 5:11 AM

everybody needs to read the story about john mccain written in rolling stone magazine and spread the word about the true story of his life

Posted by: qneee | October 15, 2008 4:53 AM

See the winner of best Sarah Palin Impersonator
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMebGbcC2Sg

Want to see what Happens when MTV hosts the debate.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=752cvy86qH8

Posted by: pastor123 | October 15, 2008 4:40 AM

http://www.need4trth.blogspot.com

WE'VE SEEN THIS BEFORE....

The RNC is basically saying they are going to challenge the rightS OF PEOPLE OF COLOR TO VOTE....Nothing more. They want to intimidate PEOPLE OF COLOR with threats of ARREST IF THEY SHOW UP, THREATS OF POLICE WILL BE THERE, THREATS OF THE PAST JUST LIKE GEORGE WALLACE, J. EDGAR HOOVER, AND OTHER people filled with hate and fear, have done and are not ceasing to do. PEOPLE IF YOU CAN, VOTE EARLY, IN MANY STATES EARLY VOTING IS BEING ALLOWED. DON'T ALLOW THESE AWFUL FOUL ACRID RANCID DECEITFUL PEOPLE TO FILL YOUR HEARTS WITHFEAR. TAKE FRIENDS TO VOTE WITH YOU, GO IN GROUPS OF 5 AND TEN MEN PROTECT WOMEN. DON'T LET THESE INTIMIDATE YOU. AS U.S. CITIZENS EVEN IF YOU ARE A FELON YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE ON ABSONTEE BALLOTS. DON'T LKET ANYONE SILENCE YOU AND SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY TO john mcshame and sarah failin', SAY IT THROUGH YOUR VOTE NO MORE!!!NO MORE!!! NO MORE!!! WE WILL NOT BE ROBBED OF THE THE RIGHT TO HAVE OUR VOICES HEARD. WE HAVE FOUGHT TOO LONG AND TOO HARD TO ALLOW THEM TO STEAL ANOTHER ELECTION THROUGH RACISM, FEAR, AND INTIMIDATION.....

Posted by: need4trth | October 15, 2008 3:33 AM

I grew up in Orange County, CA, and still live adjacent to it, where "vote suppression" is a long established practice by elements in the local Republican political machine. There have been many prosecutions and a number of convictions of this understandably hard to prove crime. Merely stationing thuggish types at polling places is not enough for a conviction.

Posted by: dogmo | October 15, 2008 2:14 AM

Right...the only two options for the GOP are sending A). Police officer types or B). Little old ladies to the polls. Hmm..let's think about this. Is it possible that they could have simply said, "We are looking for volunteers for polling places" and then assigned volunteers based on where they would most likely be needed? 80 year olds over here, more sturdy folks over there? No..this is about having a POLICE PRESENCE at the polls....in a very obvious attempt to intimidate voters. What an absolute fraud and embarrassment the Republican Party is. I would rather live in Russia under communist rule then join the GOP and every dispicable thing that party stands for.

Posted by: DianeW18 | October 15, 2008 1:52 AM

We are witnessing the death rattle of the Republican party, and it will only become uglier as we get closer to election day.

Faced with the prospect of cataclysmic defeat, they will lie, cheat, intimidate - whatever they can to steal elections.

It is up to us to ensure that Democratics vote, and that our votes are counted. Please contact your local Obama or Democratic Party office, and ask what you can do to help.

Posted by: bclark3 | October 15, 2008 1:06 AM

The effort to prevent elgible voters from exercising their franchise is proof that the Republicans have no respect for the rule of law, the Constitution, and the principles upon which our country was founded. They are neocons or crypto necocons, one and all.

Posted by: marrobcastle | October 14, 2008 11:13 PM

The McCain campaign finds cities - and the black people who live there? - to be "intimidating."

Just another line item on the list of questionable practices with racial overtones by the McCain camp . . .

Posted by: chrisduckworth | October 14, 2008 10:14 PM

Pathetic attempt at spin.

We all know that Wisconsin is the center of Dangerous Gang-Bangers, so you need to be sure that a poll watcher can protect himself.

Or maybe you just want to intimidate voters.

I've been a 60-year-old pollwatcher, do I count? Last time I was in Wisconsin -- Milwaukee to be exact, two months ago -- I didn't see any place where I would be afraid to sit out in broad daylight.

But I do see, in every major city, flyers that warn poor folks that if they dare to show up to vote, they'll be arrested for failing to pay their utilities or their rent. Of course, they don't come from the Republican party, do they?

It's so important to make sure that the wrong sort don't vote . .

Posted by: thaimex | October 14, 2008 9:48 PM

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