Saturday, October 16, 2004

Ballots for All! -- or, Republican Ingenuity Thwarted 

Everyone loves a story with a happy ending, and thanks to Zemblan patriot J.M. we are at long last able to bring you one. In the 2000 presidential election, 669,000 ballots were cast in the city of Milwaukee. This year, in anticipation of increased turnout, the city requested 938,000 ballots for November 2 -- but a county election official refused to provide them. Scott Walker initially authorized a print run of only 574,000 ballots, and then, under pressure, upped his offer to 679,000, which is where things stood on Oct. 13:
As a ballot dispute heated up Wednesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett accused Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker of inviting election-night chaos by not printing as many ballots as city officials requested.

Walker said, in turn, that the blitz of accusations against him made him suspicious that somebody might invent shortages just to prove the argument that the city is being shorted ballots.

Hines repeated his charge that Walker, by holding down the number of ballots printed for the city, is attempting to depress turnout, particularly in central city neighborhoods expected to back Democrat John Kerry in the presidential race.

"We're preparing for a record voter turnout, and we're accused of fraudulent activity," said Hines. "I'm insulted by that" . . . .

Asked why he would take the risk of [running out of ballots], Walker said that he was trying to avoid controversy about extra ballots that might arise if the presidential race is extremely close and questions linger about whether certain voters were registered properly.
(And before you ask, yes, that explanation lost us on the curve as well.) Then, from Oct. 14:
The Milwaukee election ballot flap escalated Thursday, with Gov. Jim Doyle calling for a state probe and County Executive Scott Walker agreeing after a noisy protest to reconsider the City of Milwaukee's request for more ballots . . . .

"I've personally never seen or heard anything like this in all of the years that I have been in politics, that anybody is somehow suggesting that we shouldn't have enough ballots for people," said Doyle, a Democrat.

"We don't want to become another Florida," he said, referring to that state's pivotal role in determining the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and multiple voting problems that surfaced there.

"This is a pretty simple matter - just have enough ballots there so everybody who shows up has a chance to vote."
And finally, from Oct. 15:
County Executive Scott Walker agreed Friday that the county would print the full allotment of November election ballots requested by the City of Milwaukee.

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