For years, Wisconsin Republicans have warned that voter fraud is a scourge that threatens the very survival of democracy in their state.
“I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially,” Governor Scott Walker has said.
“I’m always concerned about voter fraud, you know, being from Kenosha, and quite frankly having lived through seeing some of it happen,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus insisted. “Certainly in Milwaukee we have seen some of it, and I think it’s been documented. Any notion that’s not the case, it certainly is in Wisconsin. I’m always concerned about it, which is why I think we need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it.”
Voting rights advocates have always responded that there is no actual evidence of widespread voter fraud in the Badger State. In April, a U.S. district judge agreed, ruling that the state’s voter ID law was unconstitutional after “the evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin,” and the state “could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past.”
That all changed on Friday, when Robert Monroe was charged with 13 felonies related to his having voted 12 times in five elections between 2011 and 2012. Monroe, an insurance executive from Shorewood, Wisconsin, allegedly voted repeatedly using his own name, as well as his son’s name, and that of his girlfriend’s son.
“During 2011 and 2012, the defendant, Robert Monroe, became especially focused upon political issues and causes, including especially the recall elections,” the complaint asserts in its introduction.
WisPolitics.com reported the investigation into Monroe’s multiple voting last week after Milwaukee County Judge J.D. Watts ordered the records related to a secret John Doe investigation be made public after the investigation was closed.
According to those records, Monroe was considered by investigators to be the most prolific multiple voter in memory. He was a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker and state Sen. Alberta Darling, both Republicans, and allegedly cast five ballots in the June 2012 election in which Walker survived a recall challenge.
According to the John Doe records, Monroe claimed to have a form of temporary amnesia and did not recall the election day events when confronted by investigators.
That’s right: Wisconsin Republicans like Scott Walker found a perfect poster boy for the in-person voter fraud against which they’ve always warned. But it isn’t the mythical Milwaukee Democrat trading “smokes-for-votes,” to use Priebus’ colorful description. It’s a self-diagnosed amnesiac who broke the law to repeatedly vote for Scott Walker.
And to add insult to injury, the case only went public as a result of Walker’s career-threatening John Doe scandal.
To be clear, Monroe’s apparent fraud is not a valid pretext for enacting the GOP’s nearly nationwide campaign to make it harder to vote. Even taking this one supposed amnesiac’s alleged crimes into account, voter fraud is still practically nonexistent (for example, a typical American is about 34 times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than to be caught committing in-person voter fraud). But, if Wisconsin Republicans have any shame, it should at least cause them to pipe down about Democrats stealing elections for a little while.
In other words, Reince Priebus is probably coming soon to a cable news show near you.
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