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*** UPDATED x1 *** Kirk’s “voter integrity” project deserves the heat

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*** UPDATE *** Alexi Giannoulias’ lawyers have sent letters to state’s attorneys, county clerks and the attorney general asking for an investigation of Mark Kirk’s “voter integrity” project. The lawyers have also asked that the offices “provide additional legal and law enforcement personnel” to the targeted areas “in order to ensure that every vote is cast and counted legally.”

Read the letter by clicking here.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Republican US Senate candidate Mark Kirk is being criticized for saying he has “now funded the largest voter integrity” program in 15 years in Illinois. Kirk told Republicans on a conference call, obtained by ArchPundit, that he’s deploying lawyers to “key, vulnerable precincts,” to guard against fraud. All of the places Kirk mentioned, however, have high numbers of black people, including the South and West Sides of Chicago, Rockford, Metro East, “where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat.” Listen

* Kirk has taken some heat over the use of the word “jigger,” but I’d rather not go there. It seems a bit much to me. And, frankly, it distracts from the real issue.

Often when campaigns deploy these armies of lawyers, their aim is to suppress the vote, not ensure ballot integrity. The lawyers hover everywhere and will do things like demand voters produce identification, or check for any tiny technical errors committed by polling judges. Anything to prolong the process might also discourage people waiting in line. With today’s electronic voting, it’s pretty tough and highly unusual to stuff ballot boxes, but it’s a handy excuse to use while you’re suppressing turnout.

* The Kirk campaign points to a recent voter fraud case in the Metro East for justification

“Congressman Kirk supports statewide efforts to combat machine politics and voter fraud that is well-known in Illinois,” read a statement Thursday issued by Kirk spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. “Just this week, two individuals pled guilty to vote fraud in Metro East. Voter fraud dilutes votes and disenfranchises citizens.”

But that case, as Larry notes, was about absentee voting, not election-day, precinct-level voting, which is what the Kirk people say they are fighting. Apples and oranges.

* It’s Kirk’s right to do this. There’s nothing illegal about it as long as his operatives stay within the law come election day. Polls show that black voters aren’t backing him at all and there’s a big push by Democrats now to turn out black voters, so I can even see why he’s doing it. But bragging about voter suppression efforts in black precincts is more than a little unseemly. He pretty much deserves whatever heat he gets. Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform is right

“Congressman Kirk is correct that on occasion people are busted for voter fraud but it’s an extraordinarily inefficient if not impossible way to mess with an election and it’s certainly not the province of any political group or political machine or ethnic group,” Canary said.

Canary also said that she wasn’t surprised the targeted districts are made up of mostly African Americans.

“I think there may be something there and even more broadly it’s the urban vote versus the suburban and exurban vote. It’s kind of like saying voter fraud is a symptom of African American voters,” Canary explained. “This is not necessarily the voter population that he’s likely to win.”

* Meanwhile, Mark Kirk’s new TV ad is called “Truth.” Rate it

Kinda on the wordy side. We’ll see.

* I forgot to post this the other day. Greg Hinz fires off a good one

GOP Senate nominee Mark Kirk got off a line he should have used in [Sunday’s] TV debate.

Referring to Democratic foe Alexi Giannoulias, who was several groups ahead of him in the parade, Mr. Kirk quipped, “When you went to Miami to see Michael ‘Jaws’ Giorango, what did you talk about?”

Ouch! Mr. Giannoulias has said he didn’t know “the full extent” of Jaws’ and other Broadway Bank clients’ mob-related criminal past.

As I’ve written before, that Miami trip is the single largest unanswered question about Giannoulias’ role at the bank. I’m kinda surprised there’s been so little attention to it.

* Roundup…

* Kirk, Giannoulias on gays in military ruling: Democrat Alexi Giannoulias praised Tuesday’s decision to stop a policy he called “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional.”
A spokeswoman for Republican Mark Kirk says he doesn’t believe a decision should be made until the Joint Chiefs of Staff issue their report on the policy in December.

* Alexi’s TARP waffle?

* Daily Herald: Kirk is our choice for U.S. Senate

* Honesty attacks escalate in Illinois Senate race

* Rep. Mark Kirk looks to take open Senate seat from Alexi Giannoulias

* Alexi all in on 60 second spot

* First lady begins campaigning Wed to help Dems

* First Lady Hits Trail Without Dem Talking Points

* Michelle Obama appeals to moms on the campaign trail

* First lady comes home for Democrats

* Giannoulias Stops in Rockford

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:39 pm


  1. It is just 20 days before the election. Why should you or anyone else expect Kirk to start telling the truth about anything at this late date?

    Comment by fedup dem Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:41 pm

  2. I wonder if Kirks campaign ever thought about investing in industrial duct tape?

    Comment by Bob Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:45 pm

  3. I agree, the issue isn’t the use of the word “jigger.” Lest we forget even the beloved and uncontroversial Will Smith advocated “getting jiggy with it” just a few years ago. The nation, no the world, responded with gusto.

    The real issue is the fact Kirk is targeting black communities. It’s not unreasonable for black folks to be offended by the insinuation that Kirk is saying they are more likely to steal votes. I think it’s clear that’s exactly what Kirk is saying. This should be a much bigger story.

    Comment by just sayin' Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:52 pm

  4. For what it is worth I have seen others do it in a different focused way in Kane County (voters being brought into the polling place with attorneys)

    It might not be a bad idea but they should have added some other areas to the mix

    Comment by OneMan Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:55 pm

  5. The Kirk Ad. An A- good effort, but his latest blunder on the ‘jigger’ issue may cost him more than this Ad gains.

    Comment by downstate hack Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:59 pm

  6. Odd that Mark Kirk, who, as he tells us often, has served this country for a very long time [so long that he can’t remember all the details], would have no view on DADT. So much for showing leadership.

    Comment by Skeeter Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 12:59 pm

  7. Kirk should be sending his attorneys to investigate his allies in the Republican party, they’re the ones with the long history of illegal election activities.

    As Archpundit points out not only is there the famous presidential election in Florida, but they also tried to disqualify 35,000 minority voters in Ohio through caging, harassed hispanic voters in New Mexico and they were sent to jail for phone jamming the Democratic headquarters in New Hampshire.

    Kirk has a lot of nerve suggesting that law-abiding African American voters need to be targeted. He should look in the mirror and tell Karl Rove to take back his money and his dispicable tactics. Party of Lincoln, my foot.

    Comment by The Captain Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:05 pm

  8. See HuffPo–it’s not hard at all.

    I’m sympathetic to saying he is going to have vote monitors, but if you want that to be effective, you also have to have people in your heavy areas to sort out registration problems and election authority mistakes.

    Organizing to only stop votes always sets off red flags in my mind.

    Comment by archpundit Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:06 pm

  9. As I watched Alexi Giannoulias struggle to give a “yes” or “no” answer last Sunday when asked on “Meet The Press” if he knew of his family’s involvement in bank loans to known mobsters, I could easily see Alexi’s integrity rating had just hit rock bottom. He kept coming back with his lame defense of not knowing the “full extent” of their criminal past. That was the same as saying that “I knew they were crooks but I didn’t know that they ranked up there in the “Top 10″ alongside Alphonse Capone. It was “all downhill” for Alexi after that. His shooting hoops with his buddy Barack wasn’t going to be able to save his soul on this one.

    Mark Kirk wouldn’t be my first pick for Congressman but at least he isn’t rubbing elbows with the Mob. Alexi perhaps subscribes to the concept of being “just a little bit pregnant” at least when it comes to who he associates with and does business with. Mark Kirk will get my vote on Election Day.

    Comment by Cool Hand Luke Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:07 pm

  10. If Kirk is serious about combating election fraud at the polls, he should support allowing all established political parties to appoint Election Judges. I’m sure he doesn’t support allowing the Green Party to have election judges, for example.

    Comment by Squideshi Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:14 pm

  11. Love Cool Hand Luke’s comment:

    Not remembering if you were in a combat zone or what awards you “won” or just about any detail of your military service? No big deal.

    Flip flopping on major issues like cap and trade? Nothing to worry about.

    No opinion on DADT despite being in the military for a very long time? Not an issue.

    Calling yourself a “fiscal conservative” while voting six times to raise your own pay? Hey, they all do it.


    Have to love partisan politics.

    Comment by Skeeter Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:14 pm

  12. The South and West sides, along with Rockford and Metro East are not just simply african american areas, they are also heavy union areas. If anyone honestly doesn’t believe these groups, especially some union halls, do what they can to suppress Republican turnout and votes, or try and make ballot boxes disappear in these areas, well then I have a bridge I’d love to sell you. His mistake wasn’t that it’s not a legitimate worry, but that the truth isn’t PC.

    Comment by ANON Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:23 pm

  13. ANON, why would a Dem want a ballot box to disappear on the south or west sides? These are electronic votes. And suppression? When the areas are voting 85% or better for the Dem, they sure are not concerned with bothering to “suppress” the one Republican per precinct.

    Comment by Skeeter Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:27 pm

  14. ===or try and make ballot boxes disappear in these areas===

    Why would they need to do that when there are so few GOP votes? I can’t recall a large number of cases, but I’m sure you have some in mind or you wouldn’t have gone all out in your post. Right?

    Comment by Rich Miller Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:28 pm

  15. ANON, okay, well that’s just incorrect on several levels. Yeah, a lot of union card holders walking into the polling places where Kirk’s goons will be. Is that the best the Kirk campaign can do? Seriously?

    Comment by just sayin' Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:29 pm

  16. Kirk was a force behind the whole Princess Nudelman thing last house election. Kirk gets scared he’s going to lose and ramps up the vote fraud charges. If he wins, the vote is suddenly just fine. What happened to the republican suit against the fish anyway? Seemed to go away after Kirk took office again. Why wasn’t he still concerned about vote fraud?

    Comment by Ellen Beth Gill Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:30 pm

  17. my guess is the dirtiest sewer in illinois is probably your inbox right now with every operative in the state filling it with rumors and trash like this.

    My big concern for team kirk is that this is the 2nd time in as many weeks that an internal highly sensisitive kirk campaign memo has ended up in the hands of a journalist. First a politico story about a memo he wrote regarding the pat hughes challenge, now this. Someone in the internal circle is leaking. Perhaps they are leaking on purpose, but its not good.

    Comment by shore Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:30 pm

  18. Thanks for link Rich.

    As for the “voter fraud” I understand trying to win at all costs but disenfranchising voters is the last thing you should do. Try to suppress the vote by making them depressed about the candidate. I just hope that Kirk’s campaign takes some heat from the legal standpoint.

    Comment by Aaron Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:34 pm

  19. This post seems kinda bizarre. Every election I’ve ever judged in has registered poll watchers and representatives of the state’s attorneys ofc/and or attorney general’s office cycling in and out throughout the day. A few more “watchers” to furthr help authenticate the validity of the process and compliance to election law is suddenly going to “intimidate” voters? C’mon.

    Comment by Responsa Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:41 pm

  20. Comeon, don’t be donkeys about this use of the word jigger. No hiJinx or being slick should be approved.

    I doubt the residents of these districts are going to really be worried about some white guys in suits, perhaps Dockers and loafers. These districts are ripe for shennanigans as they often go 80+ percent dem and no one bats an eye. These are densely populated areas and harder to monitor.

    How about this, keep an eye on his monitors like his monitors will keep an eye on the polls.

    Comment by Wumpus Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 1:58 pm

  21. Wumpus, you don’t seem to get it.
    These areas go 80% Dem because these areas ARE 80%+ Dem.
    You are right on one note. Few will be intimidated. That’s not what they are trying do though.
    Slowed down? Slowed down enough to leave? That’s another matter.
    Put bodies in the other guy’s area, ask a lot of questions, and see people get out of the ensuing long lines when they have a long wait.
    That’s what this is all about.

    Comment by Skeeter Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:02 pm

  22. Also, Skeeter. The worry is not that the ballot boxes will disappear..but the reappearing is the worry. Not saying the worries are valid, but we know the urban legends in Chicago. True or not, there is potential and that worries some people.

    Kirk should make Alexi chose. Either Mob Banker or Tax Cheat. RE: FLorida, Alexi thought he was going to meet with some producers for the Jaws Sequel.

    Comment by Wumpus Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:04 pm

  23. In 2002, 2004 and 2006, Bob Dold fraudulently voted in IL-10 while he lived in Chicago.

    I assume Dold voted for Kirk.

    So, Kirk has been the beneficiary of vote fraud.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:06 pm

  24. True about the latest convictions were absentee-related, but I welcome additional scrutiny for the voting process. I talked once with a GOP candidate for state rep in the Metro East about the Election Day procedures in the ESL Election Board area. She said it was amazing the lack of diligence among the election judges.

    Comment by Vote Quimby! Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:07 pm

  25. Personally, I see no issue with the word “jigger.” It is a common word, albeit a slang work that is used in construction, business, probably lots of places.

    I do agree wholeheartedly that there needs to be an effort to make sure the elections and votes are legitimate. There is a county in Southern Ill where there are more voters than residents. This is a clear situation of possible fraud.

    I say that voters should have to present government photo ID to vote. I think this would solve many issues.

    Comment by DRB Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:09 pm

  26. So I guess the take away from this post is that there will be long lines at black precincts, so don’t bother to show up?

    Really, there are going to be pollwatchers. That I guess we know. We don’t know what they’re looking for and what will be the result of their efforts.

    So let’s just make stuff up and start rumors. Luckily, the voters are too smart to pay attention to rumors.

    Right or wrong, a huge percentage of the public believes there is voter fraud. Kirk will take no hit over this.

    The people who are going to take a hit are those who are trying to get disinterested voters to show up. The story now is that you’ll get hassled.

    It’s likely this story will suppress more than all the attorneys Kirk has hired combined.

    Comment by Feeling Suppressed Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:13 pm

  27. Alexi ought to get a spot on black radio, pronto. This could really blow up in Kirk’s face and drive higher turnout.

    Having said that, if I were Kirk, I’d be all over the Miami hotel trip, as well. Just keep asking questions: who’d you see, what did you do, etc.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:21 pm

  28. I’ve attempted to monitor a polling place deep in an inner city. The abuses are much worse than even the rumors. I reported them and nobody followed up. GOP has right to monitor Dem areas and Dems have right to monitor GOP areas. Intimidation argument is a tired left-wing talking point.

    Comment by Carnell Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:26 pm

  29. I’ve been to the organizational meetings of the lawyers running the program, and can say that voter suppression has never been a topic that I have ever heard even mentioned. The program also includes early voting, nursing homes and such. This appears far overblown.

    Comment by 42nd Ward Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:37 pm

  30. ===Intimidation argument is a tired left-wing talking point.===

    Really? Is that why Fox News was all over the New Black Panthers Party case?

    Comment by Deep South Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:37 pm

  31. Skeet…yes, they are often 80% dem, but if there are 200 people, the thought is that there wil be 220 votes cast.

    Comment by Wumpus Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:41 pm

  32. There is nothing even remotely intimidating or discouraging about a properly-trained poll watcher in a voting location. Poll watchers who are jerks are simply thrown out by the judges who have the authority to do so. The “intimidation”, if any, takes place outside the voting location as voters are deluged with palm cards — which is legal as long as the people are 100 feet away from the polling place. Or, from a “kindly” precinct captain who is given the generous run of a voting location by compliant election judges, and who enjoys “helping” the “kids” or “little old ladies” cast their ballots. A bit of extra “assistance” is often provided at nursing home voting locations as well. This is real low-tech, goon stuff that turns the stomach — not sophisticated manipulation of now tamper-resistant electronic voting machines. The simple presence of a poll watcher in these voting locations is good, reduces that kind of behavior, and is protective of everyone’s right to vote.

    By any reasonable standard of objectivity, democrat-supportive organizations have engaged in registration fraud and related activity through encouraging support of front groups like ACORN. Remember Lake County, Indiana last cycle? There is been a reasonable presence of these organizations in Illinois, so it is reasonable for political organizations to encourage the presence of poll watchers.

    In any case, Kirk has no discernable ground operation outside his skeletal presence in the 10th CD — most of which is now working for Dold. I don’t think his campaign is running “anything”.

    Comment by Chad Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:46 pm

  33. I find it concerning, Rich, that in your report you make the transition to this tactic being voter suppression. However, there is nothing to prove that this is the intent of Congressman Kirk or his campaign.

    Per the law of the land, we have the right to have legal elections. If Kirk feels he needs to have people verifying the legality of the vote in one of the most notoriously corrupt voting cities in America, then what is wrong with that?

    In these days of Franken vs. Coleman, ACORN and Florida recounts, this seems like a very fair and responsible decision by the Kirk campaign. I’d expect that AG would do the same in areas he feels are ripe for shenanigans.

    And, regardless of partisanship, I hope that anyone to be guilty of these illegal activities is punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    Comment by A.B. Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:49 pm

  34. Skeeter, it wasn’t A LOAN, it was millions and millions of dollars in a bunch of loans. And, it was millions and millions of dollars in losses in the Bright Start Program.

    When did Alexi leave the bank? 2005? 2006? April of 2006? May of 2006? Don’t worry so much about Kirk “misremembering”, your guy is plenty fuzzy these days.

    Comment by Fred Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:57 pm

  35. The biggest voter fraud is the Republican myth of “voter fraud”. Report from Brennan Center for Justice established the facts–
    Like Obama’s birth certificate, this voter fraud myth is just a wedge issue that masks racism.

    Comment by D.P. Gumby Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 2:59 pm

  36. The Democratic Party has been much more organized and well-manned than the Republican Party for a long time. They have had pollwatchers and Obama’s campaign pushed for lawyers to get involved as well. The republicans have done a better job of organizing this year and has people in place to poll watch at their local precincts. This is an effort to make sure the party also has poll watchers where they don’t really have a presence or people to volunteer for their own precinct. It stands to reason that the republicans would focus on areas that are not already covered and where there is concern that no presence could lead to inflated vote totals.

    Comment by Worth It Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 3:02 pm

  37. Why did Kirk stick his chin out like that? Doesn’t he have a campaign manager who could have talked about it? Why talk about it at all? Just do it, if you’re going to do it.

    Kirk should know better than anyone that whatever you say can and will be used against you in politics.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 3:11 pm

  38. As someone who was involved with an Obama Voter’s Rights Team in Missouri, I’m not bothered by the idea of having lawyers at the polls as a general matter. In the 2008 campaign, though, the justification given was to ensure there weren’t any improper obstacles to voting, not the idea that there’d be tampering with the numbers. Did the Obama teams have people on the lookout for shenanigans in districts with a bad reputation (like Ohio and Florida urban areas)? I’m sure they did - but you never, ever suggest in advance that the votes from some area or group are inherently suspect. Kirk just did more to fire up Dems in those areas than anything Alexi Giannoulis could do on policy.

    Comment by Berkeley Bear Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 3:27 pm

  39. I’m confident that the next bogus allegation from Alexi will be that Kirk is funding the program with money from foeign governments and corporations.

    Comment by 42nd Ward Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 3:49 pm

  40. I found a picture of what I believe the guys that Kirk is going to be posting at the polling places will look like. Of course, this is pure speculation; and I hope that I don’t run afoul of this blog’s excellent rumor policy.

    Comment by Squideshi Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 6:31 pm

  41. I can’t believe Kirk publicly used the “j-word”

    – MrJM

    Comment by MrJM Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 7:05 pm

  42. I bet Kirk’s guys will be less “intimidating” than these guys. No billy clubs
    I am certain they will be less comical

    Comment by Wumpus Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 7:58 pm

  43. “Why did Kirk stick his chin out like that?”

    Trying to get the Conservatives riled up so that they’d support him?

    Comment by Anonymous Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 10:11 pm

  44. These areas haven’t had a Republican election judge for decades! When the numbers come out the way they do in certain precincts year after year like 150000 to 1500 it’s worth a look. Its not that a box is lost it’s people standing in the polling booth and “Helping” without the other party having representation. Or perhaps someone voting for a second or third time etc…

    For you Democrats to even bring this up and pretend to be surprised is a joke! Look at the numbers your self the break down is not natural.

    Comment by votecounter Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 10:14 pm

  45. Maybe Alexi could do a sound over dub of Ricky Hendon’s radio ad to counter the B+ Kirk ad. I agree the ad was too wordy. Spend 30 seconds on issue, then come back with another 30 second ad that is the equivalent of a right hook following the jab. Going for a knockout in 30 seconds won’t work in Illinois.

    Comment by dznuts Wednesday, Oct 13, 10 @ 11:22 pm

  46. ===When the numbers come out the way they do in certain precincts year after year like 150000 to 1500 it’s worth a look.===

    You don’t get out much, do you?

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Oct 14, 10 @ 12:19 am

  47. Have to love 42nd Ward’s comment. Apparently, they were smart enough not to say “Please engage in illlegal conduct” during a meeting of lawyers.

    I’m sure they just provided “useful advice” like asking to verify signatures. Every signature. And don’t rush through the job.

    Speaking of the 42nd Ward, in 2008 a GOP judge challenged any voter who claimed to be handicapped and needed assistance. According to the judge, the people didn’t look handicapped to him.

    Comment by Skeeter Thursday, Oct 14, 10 @ 6:05 am

  48. I ment congressional districts Check out the numbers from Bobby Rush’s district against Bush1 in 88. 4%? 174,000 to 7,000 ok not 1500 but not that far off

    Comment by Votecounter Thursday, Oct 14, 10 @ 4:42 pm

  49. You ever been to Bobby Rush’s district?

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Oct 14, 10 @ 5:03 pm

  50. Votecounter is on to something. There’s definitely a conspiracy knocking down that GOP vote in Bobby Rush’s district. Which was drawn, specifically, to be the most Dem district in the country.

    I’m officially middle-aged, and it’s not my first rodeo, but who’s nuts here?

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Oct 14, 10 @ 10:13 pm

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