Both Sides Ready for Voting Irregularities
In Maricopa County, home of more than half of Arizona’s voters, material reminding Spanish-language speakers to vote lists Election Day as Nov. 8, two days after the polls close. In Florida, the Division of Elections is investigating letters sent to voters in 24 counties that say recipients have been flagged as possible noncitizens and are therefore ineligible to vote. In Wisconsin, billboards warn of jail time for voter fraud. And voters in several swing states have reported receiving calls telling them they can vote by phone instead of at the ballot box.
Welcome to the unseemly underside of politics. While President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney work to mobilize as much of their base as possible, some operatives are working behind the scenes to dissuade the other side’s voters from casting ballots.
In other cases, simple mistakes in local elections offices threaten to disenfranchise at least a handful of voters. In a close-fought election likely to come down to just a few states, any problem at the polls will cause the losing side to scream bloody murder.
Both the Obama and Romney camps claim they are confident they’ll win by sufficient margins. But privately, each side is preparing armies of lawyers and warning staff to be ready to fly to a political hot spot at a moment’s notice on Election Night.
“What we’re preparing for now is the efforts on the ground, and we will, as we’ve had in the past, have thousands of lawyers working at polling places throughout the country,” said Will Crossley, a Democratic National Committee spokesman. “This program that we have is bigger than we’ve had in a long time.”
“We have all the resources and infrastructure we need for any potential dispute or recount,” said one Romney aide. Because of a three-decade old court agreement, the Republican National Committee is not allowed to send lawyers into the field. Instead, the Republican National Lawyers Association, headed by longtime GOP activists David Norcross and Cleta Mitchell, organize the party’s volunteer legal efforts.