It’s no secret that Mark Ritchie is a fan of the vouching system even though he won’t address the issue on his campaign website. Minnesotans should write that provision out of existence. Powerline’s Scott Johnson wrote about the potential for corruption through the vouching system in this post:

Minnesota is one of the few states that allows same-day voter registration and has become infamous for its lax same day voter registration requirements. Under Minnesota’s registration law, an eligible but previously unregistered individual may register to vote in his precinct by showing proof of residence in the precinct or, in the absence of such proof, having a voter registered in the precinct vouch under oath that he personally knows that the unregistered individual is a resident of the precinct. Although the requirements necessary to establish residence are minimal, they are not non-existent and they are the statutory protection against vote fraud and serial voting.

If the potential for voter fraud is that simple, then we need to eliminate that possibility ASAP. As Scott explains, it isn’t just about the potential for fraud. It’s that there’s been an attempt to commit voter fraud through the vouching system:

Among the well-funded and supposedly independent groups supporting John Kerry in the campaign is Americans Coming Together (ACT). ACT has taken notice of Minnesota’s special vulnerabilty to vote fraud and organized a sophisticated effort to exploit it in a manner that violates Minnesota law. In Minnesota the Bush campaign has come into the possession of the following email from ACT to its Minnesota volunteers:

Election Day is upon us. You are confirmed to volunteer with ACT (America Coming Together – http://www.actforvictory.org/) on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov 2.

We will be creating name badges that include your Ward and Precinct information for each of the thousands of volunteers that day to make it easier to find a volunteer to vouch for a voter at the polls.

I am emailing you to request your street address, city and zipcode. We’ve already got your other contact information, but your record in our database does not include this information.

You can save us time on election day by replying today to this email with this information, or give us a call at [phone number with St. Paul area code].

In order to get your badge correct, please reply by Thursday.

Thank you for your help and cooperation. See you on Election Day.

ACT actually put a system together that connected registered voters in Minnesota with ‘volunteers’. Their system was certainly straightforward. Their communications certainly laid out how the voucher-volunteer connections would be made.

That email is undeniably a smoking gun.

What’s more is that there’s another connection that isn’t well known, the connection between Mark Ritchie and ACT. This article does a great job of connecting those dots:

A profoundly straightforward and potentially effective pro-voting campaign called November 2 has just been launched by National Voice, a coalition of nonprofit and community groups working to maximize public participation in the democratic process. The campaign, developed by the crack advertising firm of Wieden and Kennedy (famed for its work for Nike), is clever in its simplicity. It’s all about branding November 2 on T-shirts, billboards, computer screens and bumper stickers and connecting it to the logos of numerous organizations people trust. November 2 on the front of the T-shirt and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Sierra Club, League of Women Voters or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on the back. As Billy Bragg sang satirically: “The revolution is just a T-shirt away.”

There has been substantial media coverage about large groups working on the partisan side in the election, receiving millions of dollars from big donors such as George Soros and Peter Lewis. America Coming Together (ACT), as a Section 527 organization in the IRS tax code, is allowed to do partisan voter registration as long as it isn’t coordinated or specifically supportive of a specific candidate. ACT, which has raised more than $50 million, is about identifying potential voters who have a good chance of getting to the polls. Steve Rosenthal, the former political director of the AFL-CIO, says ACT “will make in the range of 10 million voter contacts before the election, but they will only be registering perhaps 500,000 new voters,” because the less dependable “nonvoter” is not their priority.

In other words, ACT was involved in a massive, nationwide voter registration drive. That’s just part of the operation. The work done registering voters would be wasted if they didn’t vote. That’s where Mark Ritchie gets involved:

Only a year old, National Voice hired gifted organizer Mark Ritchie, a veteran of international organizing on issues of global trade and justice. “I see November 2 as an outreach tool to drive people to the Web site where we can get them involved as a volunteer. I see the effort as unifying a theme and message that can tie together disparate GOTV efforts. Thirty thousand T-shirts are out the door, and bumper stickers and iron-ons. In essence, we are working to make it cool to vote and cool to get involved beyond just voting.” There has been a bus tour with a film crew that is gathering footage for public service announcements on television. “If you saw the Nike commercial during the NBA finals–that fabulous one with Lance Armstrong riding his bike and the fantastic views and warmth,” said Ritchie, smiling, “well, the same guy who did that one is doing our commercials.”

They’re talking about the T-shirts mentioned earlier in this post. The November 2nd Project T-shirts had their ‘sponsors’ names on the back. These sponsors included the NAACP, the Sierra Club and ACORN.

What this means is that ACORN and ACT were working as part of a big coalition to register voters and the November 2nd Project, run by Mark Ritchie, was ‘harvesting’ the votes with his GOTV operation.

I can’t prove that Mark Ritchie knew about this specific email from ACT to its volunteers but I’m confident that he was sympathetic to the vouching system. Personally, I’d find it difficult to believe that he didn’t know that ACT and ACORN weren’t corrupt.

The November 2nd Project’s mission was to get the voters that ACT and ACORN registered to their polling places. They admitted that they were coordinating with ACORN and ACT, which means that the November 2nd Project was given the names and addresses of the people ACORN and ACT registered.

The November 2nd Project couldn’t help but notice the flawed voter registrations. They’d have to be blind to not notice. Check out this information on what ACT was involved with:

ACT Submitted Faulty Registrations In St. Louis.
“Sleuths at the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners are trashing hundreds of faulty voter registrations, most of them collected by voter drive groups like Pro-Vote and America Coming Together. KMOV presented [Commissioner David] Welch with a list of names of voters who apparently registered twice, using variations of their names, registrations that had not yet been flagged.” (KMOV Website, http://www.kmov.com/topstories/stories/100604ccktKMOVVote.7e36f2b.html, Accessed 10/7/04)

It’s worth noting the article’s date as it was written almost a month before the election. Ritchie certainly had to know about ACT’s corruption if it was in the news.

Why has Mark Ritchie stayed silent all this time? Why hasn’t he spoken out about ACT’s corruption? After all of ACT’s and ACORN’s proven corruption, you’d think that he’d reject ACORN’s endorsement. Instead of hearing him reject their endorsement, all that’s been heard from Mr. Ritchie is the sounds of crickets.

It’s insulting that Mr. Ritchie insists that voter fraud doesn’t exist and has never existed when he worked with corrupt organizations in 2004 as part of a major progressive GOTV coalition.

Perhaps that explains this heated exchange between Mr. Ritchie and Rep. Dan Severson:

“What I hear senior citizens say to me is look, I’ve voted since Roosevelt. I’ve never taken a bit of charity or anything from the government,” Ritchie said. “I am not going to start becoming a ward of the state just because you want to deny me the right to vote because I’m so old now I don’t have to drive and I don’t carry government-issued identification.”

Ritchie also said a photo ID law would negatively impact thousands of military and overseas voters. But Severson called that a bogus argument.

“It’s just absolutely wrong, because they have military ID, which are government-sponsored IDS, or they have a passport, which again are government sponsored,” Severson said. “There’s no reason, and if Secretary Ritchie lacks the creativity and ingenuity to make that happen, the he shouldn’t be secretary of state. We need someone who’s going to go after this issue and validate the valid votes.”

What BS. I’m betting that Mr. Ritchie has never talked with a senior citizen who said that politicians wanted to “deny him the right to vote…” I’m betting that that’s his attempt to sound melodramatic.

Rep. Severson’s rebuttal that the military have their own ID’s shoots down Ritchie’s other argument.

QUESTION: Why is Mark Ritchie opposed to a system that will actually speed up the voting process?

Mark Ritchie’s work with ACT and ACORN, two exceptionally corrupt organizations, during a voter registration drive and GOTV operation certainly calls into question Mr. Ritchie’s decisionmaking and his integrity.

How can we trust someone who’s stayed silent all these years when he had the opportunity to admit that these organizations are/were corrupt? I won’t trust him with our electtion system.

A vote is a terrible thing to have compromised.

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4 Responses to “Ritchie’s Corruption Connection”

  • eric z says:

    If it had not been for his honest and courageously competent handling of the recount, Coleman would have stolen Franken’s victory.

    Ritchie is a good guy. Can you imagine if Kiffmeyer had been SoS for the recount.

    Three Stooges and Buster Keaton rolled into one, Harold Lloyd thrown in for good measure.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Actually, I can imagine it if Mary Kiffmeyer had been SoS. She would’ve followed up to make sure that election judges knew the rules for absentee ballots. Ritchie didn’t bother with that. Three election judges said he didn’t. Shame on him for that.

    Ritchie also didn’t clean up the voter rolls, something required of him by HAVA, which was passed in 2002. ANOTHER CRITICAL FAILURE on Ritchie’s part. It let felons vote who hadn’t met the requirements laid out in straightforward fashion in Minnesota’s election laws.

    With Ritchie, it’s all about increasing turnout without respect to whether the additional people voting are eligible to vote. That’s a corrupting thing because, essentially, Ritchie is deciding unilaterally to ignore Minnesota’s election laws by executive fiat. NO CHECKS. NO BALANCES.

    Eric, I know you better than that. If a Republican did this, you’d criticize him/her & rightly so. We can’t have our elected leaders picking which laws they’ll bey & which ones they’ll ignore. That’s the type of tyranny that’s unacceptable wherever it’s found. PERIOD.

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