Stop Giving Poll Watchers Inaccurate Information

Target: Brad Courtney, Wisconsin Republican Party Chair

Goal: Ensure Republican poll watchers don’t wrongfully intimidate voters.

Volunteers around the country are being recruited to monitor polling places on Election Day to prevent voters from voting fraudulently, but Wisconsin’s Republican Party has been giving its volunteers training materials that contain inaccurate and incomplete information, which could result in eligible voters being turned away. Campaign officials must make sure their training materials are corrected and that volunteers receive updated and accurate information before heading to the polls.

The training packet incorrectly informs poll watchers that anyone with a felony conviction should not be allowed to vote, but in Wisconsin, once felons have completed probation and paid their fines, their voting rights are restored. Additionally, the training materials give an incomplete list of the documents that voters may use to provide proof of address, stating that those listed documents are the only acceptable forms. The volunteers are then advised to hide any association with the Republican Party and instead to identify themselves vaguely as “concerned citizens,” making the group’s motives seem questionable.

The alleged purpose of poll watchers is to monitor for and report any evidence of fraudulent voting, but reliable studies have shown that voter fraud is a very rare occurrence that has never had a noticeable effect on an election, and most purported instances of voter fraud have been disproved. In light of this, the function of poll watchers seems to be to intimidate voters rather than to prevent voter fraud, as is the case with the voter ID laws that were recently established in many states.

The polls in Wisconsin show that the presidential race is close enough that even a few citizens being unfairly denied the right to vote could affect the outcome of the election for the entire country. With these inaccuracies in the training materials, poll watchers might end up spreading that inaccurate information to voters and confusing them to the point of giving up on voting altogether. Wisconsin’s Republican Party must update its training materials and make sure all of the poll watchers have accurate information.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Brad Courtney,

The Republican Party has been training poll watchers in Wisconsin in preparation for the upcoming election, but it was recently discovered that some of the information contained in the training materials is inaccurate or incomplete.

The training packets incorrectly tell poll watchers that former felons may not vote, while in reality, felons who have completed their sentences regain their voting rights. The poll watchers are also given a list of the forms of identification that voters must use to give proof of address, but that list is incomplete.

Citizens must be guaranteed the right to vote and it is unfair to give poll watchers misleading information that might cause them to deny that right to those who are trying to vote legally and with all of the proper documentation. Please make sure that these poll watchers are given updated training materials with complete and accurate information so that this election will be decided fairly.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sunset Parkerpix via Flickr.

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