Here we go: Scott Brown's cheating, declares Coakley camp; Update: Mass. secretary of state dismisses fraud complaints

Who knows how far this Rovian conspiracy could reach in the deep red state of Massachusetts?

A late press conference by Coakley today claims election tampering. They claim five people stepped forward claiming to have pre-marked ballots for Scott Brown at the polls. This is the sort of complaint a campaign usually makes early enough in the day to drive their voters’ turnout up. 6 p.m. is awfully late.

Could be a turnout ploy, could be a placeholder in case the race is close enough to warrant a court challenge, or could just be a pretext for the secretary of state to hold up Brown’s certification for an extra few days that might make a different to ObamaCare but probably won’t.

Here’s the press release alleging “independent and disturbing reports” of ballots already filled in by the vast Massachusetts right-wing conspiracy, and here’s lefty Greg Sargent trying hard not to roll his eyes. Oh, did I mention that one of their lawyers was also, um, Al Franken’s head recount lawyer? Exit question: What would Ed Schultz do?

Update: Team Scotty hits back. Via an NRSC e-mail:

“Reports that the Coakley campaign is making reckless accusations regarding the integrity of today’s election is a reminder that they are a desperate campaign. In fact, news reports point out that today’s accusation was a pre-dated, in the bag political attack. Furthermore, Senator John Kerry accused Brown supporters of intimidation and bullying — a tactic taken directly from his own 2004 playbook. The reality is that Massachusetts voters will determine the outcome of this election despite political attacks leveled by Martha Coakley and national Democrats.” — Daniel B. Winslow, Counsel for the Scott Brown for U.S. Senate Campaign

CLICK HERE to view a screen shot of the pre-dated attack.

In 2004, Kerry’s Campaign Team Sent A Guidebook To Their Colorado Staff Telling Them To Launch A “Pre-Emptive Strike” If “No Signs Of Intimidation Techniques” Are Reported. “If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a ‘pre-emptive strike’ (particularly well-suited to states in which there techniques have been tried in the past).

* Issue a press release

i. Reviewing Republican tactic used in the past in your area or state

ii. Quoting party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting

* Prime minority leadership to discuss the issue in the media; provide talking points
* Place stories in which minority leadership expresses concern about the threat of intimidation tactics
* Warn local newspapers not to accept advertising that is not properly disclaimed or that contains false warnings about voting requirements and/or about what will happen at the polls” (Kerry-Edwards 2004, “Colorado Election Day Manual: A Detailed Guide To Voting In Colorado,” 11/04)

Update: Even the machine’s own secretary of state can’t force himself to take this seriously.

The Massachusetts secretary of state is discounting reports of voter irregularities in the state’s Senate special election.

A spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin said Tuesday two reports of spoiled ballots could not be verified or found to be widespread.