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Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

Real-Live Election Fraud

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And they failed that test miserably.

Ever since Republicans began trumpeting the issue of election fraud in recent years, they`ve been strongly suspected of merely using the issue as a subterfuge.

That`s because Republicans never presented any actual evidence that election fraud had ever been committed by anyone except Republicans in the state of Florida. And the only solution they offered to prevent imaginary election fraud was to try to make it more difficult for poor people and minorities to vote—citizens who are likely to vote Democratic.

But what if conservative Republicans were presented with a campaign that the bipartisan Milwaukee Election Commission determined was rife with "widespread fraud, deception, irregularity, misrepresentation, untruths and other illegalities"?

Finally, Republicans could righteously condemn some real-live election fraud and do everything possible to bring those dastardly enemies of democracy to justice.

But, wait a minute, who was that lawyer defending the accused defrauders? It was none other than Paul Bucher, former Waukesha County district attorney and failed candidate for state attorney general.

Bucher, one of the loudest conservative Republican voices against imaginary election fraud, is now co-counsel for those accused of engaging in "widespread fraud, deception, irregularity, misrepresentation, untruths and other illegalities."

What was a white, conservative politician from Waukesha doing in Milwaukee trying to overturn the legitimate election of an inner-city alderman using such questionable tactics?

Perhaps this Alice in Wonderland political world will be easier to understand if we mention that the public official Bucher and the accused defrauders are trying to unseat is Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee.

If there is anything conservative Republicans hate more than poor people and minorities being allowed to vote willy-nilly without showing multiple forms of identification, it`s when poor people and minorities elect a firebrand politician who strongly represents their community.

That`s why Bucher and the inaccurately named Citizens for Responsible Government, a mostly white, suburban, anti-tax group, are the shadowy forces behind the recall attempt against McGee.

The three-member Milwaukee Election Commission last week heard McGee`s challenges to the recall petitions turned in by ViAnna Jordan, the Milwaukee resident fronting the recall effort.

The election commission unanimously cited widespread fraud and illegalities by those circulating the recall petitions and referred their findings to the Milwaukee County District Attorney`s Office for possible criminal charges.

Separately, the district attorney already was conducting a secret John Doe investigation to determine if crimes were committed by the recall petitioners.

Affidavits presented to the election commission said circulators lied about the purpose of the petition, claiming they were to prevent the closing of Malcolm X Academy, for example. They also said petitions were circulated by underage children or by someone other than the signed circulators who swore to their authenticity.

The election commission threw out as invalid more than 1,000 of the 2,850 signatures originally turned in. But by the time the commission faced a legal deadline to make a decision, there were still 165 more valid signatures than the legal minimum of 1,620 needed to schedule a recall election.

As a result, the election commission both condemned the widespread fraud and illegalities by the circulators and ordered the election to proceed. That bizarre outcome means McGee`s opponent could simultaneously be campaigning for office and fighting criminal charges.

Attorney Michael Maistelman, representing McGee, is seeking relief from either the state Elections Board or Milwaukee County Circuit Court to prevent a recall election based on illegal activities.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

The reason the Bush administration was doomed to failure in creating democracy in Iraq is that conservative ideologues don`t appear to truly believe in democracy.

Their idea of democracy in the Middle East looks a lot like martial law. Their idea of a system of justice is trying Saddam Hussein before a kangaroo court and kicking the defendant through a hole with a rope around his neck within days of conviction without any right of appeal.

Similarly, in Milwaukee, conservative Republicans have no qualms about trying to overturn a democratically held election with votes obtained through widespread fraud, deception and illegalities.

In 2004, McGee was the winner of a 6th District election in which 10,373 voters cast ballots. Spring judicial elections, when the recall would be scheduled, typically draw only about 1,500 voters in the 6th District.

That means the will of the majority in the district could be overturned in an irregularly scheduled election when about 15% as many voters turn out.

Far from opposing election fraud, Bucher and other Republican conservatives revel in it whenever it serves their purposes.