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Absentee Ballot Shenanigans in Wisconsin?

1:29 PM, Aug 9, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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If a Democrat narrowly loses in one of the Wisconsin recall elections today, expect to hear a lot more about this story

The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group, is mailing out absentee ballot applications to voters in two state Senate recall districts with instructions to return the material after the date of the election.

The fliers tell voters to return the absentee ballots to their city clerk before Aug. 11, even though the election date for the two districts receiving the mailers is Aug. 9.

Matt Seaholm, state director of AFP, blamed the mistake on a typo, saying his group was not trying to mislead anyone.

"This just went out to our members," Seaholm said. "I'm sure the liberals will try to make a mountain out of a molehill in an attempt to distract voters' attention from the issues."

Other sources say the fliers were received by "card-carrying Democrats active in the recalls" of state Sens.Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and Rob Cowles (R-Allouez). Harsdorf is running against teacher Shelly Moore, and Cowles is being challenged by former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum.

If a Republican narrowly loses, expect to hear more about this story:

Laremy Ellsworth lives in rural Minnesota between the towns of Dover and St. Charles.

On May 9, according to records from the River Falls City Clerk, Ellsworth registered for an absentee ballot for River Falls, WI, using an address 2 blocks north of UW-River Falls. A check of county records indicates he voted once in River Falls during the November 2008 presidential elections.  Casual voters like Ellsworth hare the prime targets for absentee vote programs.  Organizers generally believe voters like him would be more willing to vote if the process were much simpler.

But should Ellsworth be voting in an August election in Wisconsin?

On May 10th, Ellsworth posted on his facebook wall that he “will be out of this **** hole” in “less than a week.” Four days later, Laremy Ellsworth graduated from UW-River Falls.

But, before he left Wisconsin, Ellsworth registered to have his absentee ballot mailed to Dover, MN.

In total 22 students who lived in the UW-River Falls dorms, and two UW-River Falls students who lived off campus registered for absentee ballots to be sent to Minnesota. Twenty one of these students had never voted before in a Wisconsin election, and the remaining three, like Ellsworth had only voted in the 2008 presidential election.

“Absentee voters should be reminded that they will face prosecution if they vote in the August 9 election without a permanent residence in the district on that date.” said Grothman.

With that said, the scandals of the senate recall elections are pretty tame by Wisconsin's standards. Sure, you have supporters of Democratic candidate Sandy Pasch offering viddles for votes, but at least she isn't preying on the mentally handicapped (like Democrat Jim Doyle's gubernatorial campaign did in 2002). And the son of a congresswoman hasn't slashed a campaign worker's tires. At least not yet.

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