Disenfranchising Nuns for ****** sake!

Thanks to my friend and capital insider Ashley Schultz for bringing this event from the Supreme Court recount to my attention yesterday afternoon via Facebook. Here is her original posting from yesterday which is in the form of an email reposted by Charles Sykes. I probably would have overlooked it until this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel if it hadn’t been posted on FB.

Now I know that Ms. Schultz was trying to ridicule the Kloppenburg campaign for over reaching during the recount for disenfranchising nuns. Who would be so cruel as to nullify the votes of nuns for crying out loud? Nuns! Sigh…

Well I am not going to impugn the honesty of a group of cloistered nuns. But after reading the initial post and later the MJS article, I saw something completely different.

Well, let’s start with the actual event. Prairie du Sac is home to a cloister of nuns and they vote via absentee ballot. Town of Sumter Clerk Donna Zeigler dropped off 18 absentee ballots before the election and picked them up in a sealed envelope the day of the election. They were duly counted and recorded during the actual election. During the recount it was noted that 18 absentee ballots were missing the witness signature. These ballots were challenged by the Kloppenburg campaign. Since the ballots couldn’t be matched to the voter, 18 of the 24 absentee ballots from the Township were withdrawn from the recount.

First things first…the Kloppenburg campaign did not disenfranchise 18 nuns. They challenged 18 absentee ballots and the election canvassers withdrew the 18 randomly selected ballots. Justice Prosser’s campaign made two appeals to have the ballots counted but the canvassers denied the appeals. So directly the canvassers disenfranchised 18 absentee voters.

But at the base of it, were these ballots correctly handled from day one? Since they were missing witness signatures from day one should they have even been counted on April 5th? If proper procedures weren’t being followed initially they should have been nullified weeks ago and this issue should never have seen the light of day.

Now here is an excerpt from Mr. Sykes post:

Yesterday, the canvas board reconsidered—bringing in the Town Clerk (Ziegler) to discuss the situation, and she very passionately objected to the dismissal—stating she knows these women, trusts them and has always handled the nun’s absentee ballots the same way. Again, the canvas board after a long and somewhat contentious conversation voted to reject the ballots—at the insistence of the Kloppenburg attorney.

Ok, so Town Clerk Ziegler has always handled the nun’s absentee ballots the same way. But were they being handled correctly or not? Did they have witness signatures in the past? If they’ve always been missing why wasn’t this issue addressed before now? How long have these absentee ballots been mishandled? And I am not questioning the veracity of the nuns but if the Town of Sumter is mishandling absentee ballots is there cause for alarm about potential voter fraud somewhere between the convent and the town hall?
And why are absentee ballots even being handled personally by the Town Clerk? Why aren’t they being mailed to and from the convent like other municipalities? Yes, sure, it’s a small town, we know everybody in town, and this is the way we’ve always done it. Well the canvassers apparently reviewed the ballots and procedures three times during the recount and tossed them. Town of Sumter needs to make some changes.

Now I do feel bad that any citizen of Wisconsin who took the time to vote in the Supreme Court race may have had his/her vote nullified. That certainly isn’t what I want nor anyone else that I know.

But I do find it funny that the Justice Prosser campaign would select this particular challenge of absentee ballots to ridicule. Because from a general reading of the proposed Voter ID bill, I think these fine women will be disenfranchised by the Republicans. These Cistercian nuns are cloistered which means that they can’t visit the local DMV office to get their free voter IDs. I mean there’s a reason they vote by absentee ballot. And I am not sure they could allow the DMV visit the convent to create the IDs even if the DMV were so inclined. And if somehow they could secure acceptable photo IDs, could they provide the photocopies with their absentee ballots that one version of the bill requires?

So, just because we always do it this way, all election commissions, town/county clerks, polling place volunteers, etc. have to do a better job of following all of the rules for elections…and don’t toss around accusations of an incidental disenfranchisement of a particular group during the recount (when it could have been avoided by following proper procedures) when a few months from now you intend to permanently disenfranchise them yourself!


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17 thoughts on “Disenfranchising Nuns for ****** sake!

  1. Republicans are getting their way – marginalizing the vote, disenfranchising voters, and planning for further voter apathy. There will be far more people who will not be able to vote because of this incredibly costly voter ID bill. It’s fueled by paranoia on the right and funded by a conservative consensus that some voters shouldn’t vote. There are no cases of voter fraud that would be stopped by this bill yet plenty of examples of people who would not be able to vote because of this bill. This afternoon Jeff Stone was on with Ben Merens. When asked about the fraud that this bill would stop, Stone floundered around and mumbled about what some unidentified prosecutor had told him might happen. Sounds like a lark. Also, as you aptly point out, the Republicans want it both ways. They want to sound like they care about legality issues and identity theft when what they really want to do is limit the size of the voting public. It’s very deliberate, from tort reform to incarceration rates to the voter ID bill, etc. It’s hard to believe Republicans can stand themselves.

  2. Hmm. In Stone’s VOTER ID bill those living in nursing homes, retirement homes and the like would be exempt from the law if special registration deputies are sent to their facilities. Perhaps you should contact your representatives and ensure that this is extended to convents?

    Also, GAB states that votes shouldn’t be tossed because of administrative error. “Ballots shall not be rejected solely because they are not properly initialed.” Ziegler swore under oath that these ballots were valid, that should be enough to clear them.

    The point is, AAG Kloppenburg’s campaign is challenging everything under the sun (yesterday while counting Brookfield they challenged 6 ballot bags because there was a 1/4th inch opening at the top of the “cinch”) It’s a circus. Waukesha will not be done by the deadline, meaning this will cost more tax-payer money, and for what?

    1. I agree it’s very likely she lost, but I’d blame the colossal mistake made in Waukesha county more than her campaign. Had that mistake not been made, I wonder if we’d even be seeing a recount.

      1. Pretty irresponsible to waste all that money because of an administrative error. I’d understand a recount of Waukesha County…but statewide?

        1. Remember that a recount was likely to happen even if she won too. It’s not like either campaign would have mercifully spared the expense.

            1. All that seem to be coming from mishandled bags with broken seals, opened bags, misprinted numbers, that have problems with the chain of custody, compared to the competence from the rest of the state.

              I will laugh so hard if all those bad bags add up to 18,000 votes. Seems like it’s heading that way.

    2. “and for what?”

      To ensure every vote has been counted properly. Given what happened in Waukesha County following the election, it’s not as if there’s no reason to question things.

      1. Funny, because instead of making sure every vote is counted, the Kloppenburg campaign is making sure as many as possible AREN’T counted.

        1. So your saying the prosser campaign has not challenged the validity of any votes?

          Its my understanding that the “Nun votes” were not challenged by the Kloppenburg campaign that that is a lie being spread by the hate mongers on talk radio….

            1. “Chris Lapp objected to the ballots.”

              That’s his job. Is there a special exemption in election law for ascetics? Maybe we should be handing out habits instead of photo IDs.

        2. thanks for visiting…sorry if I ruined your street cred!

          My take is we make sure every vote that was legally and correctly handled get counted.

          Between the shenanigans in Waukesha County and the little improprieties like the Town of Sumter (and I realize Clerk Ziegler’s actions were totally well meaning and perfectly innnocent and I mean her no malice), it appears the potential for voter fraud isn’t the rogue individual in the voting booth…but the non-chalance in officials and their management of the elections.

          I’ll get to voter ID and costs in another blog…so thanks for reminding me!

  3. I always find arguments like this to be almost insulting, as if people think certain classes of people should be treated differently. While this is a sad thing, the bad thing is that this went unnoticed for so long and not that nuns in particular were affected.

  4. I don’t see why nuns were voting anyhow, the Bible says women should not be put in a position of power over men.

    But enough being facetious, I’ve had an absentee ballot returned in the past for not having a witness signature. I had time to resubmit the thing. I don’t see the problem here. I’m a betting man and I’ll put money these aren’t the only ballots to be disqualified for this very reason. It is pure spin using the nuns to get the fundamentalist panties in a twist. Bet there aren’t any “news” stories about Joe the mechanics ballot getting tossed due to lack of a witness. I also bet something very similar has happened.

    Damn you Wisconsin, enforcing election integrity like that!

    1. Oh wait — But what if God was their witness?

      I’m surprised that was not mentioned or tried.

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