Election fraud in Wisconsin election?

In the aftermath of close elections, allegations of fraud and manipulation almost always arise, especially when the election was fought as bitterly as the one in Wisconsin.  The Daily Caller reports that accusations of both are already flying, but their report doesn’t offer too much in the way of actual evidence:

Madison and Milwaukee conservative radio show host Vicki McKenna aired several concerns during her Wednesday show. She told TheDC she spent almost her entire two-hour show taking audience calls, in which listeners detailed what may be considered full-blown voter fraud.

One caller, McKenna said, talked about a “missing box of ballots,” a voter overheard poll workers talking about. On air, McKenna said the ballot box could have contained blank ballots or it could have been filled with Wisconsin voters’ completed ballot. Either possibility presents a dilemma, though, as blank ballots in the hands of the wrong people could be used to illegally influence counts after the election.

“There are reports of 17-year-olds voting because they didn’t need to show proof of their age or anything like that,” McKenna told TheDC. “There were folks allegedly using their husbands’ or relatives’ utility bills in voter registration, ballots weren’t being counted because they were using the wrong kind of pens. There’s an over-count of 10,000 votes in Dane County.”

Yesterday, a number of people forwarded me a post from Pundit Press, a fine blog, claiming that it gave evidence of ballot tampering on a wide scale.  Pundit Press itself didn’t make that claim, however.  Thomas Ferdousi wrote about allegations he heard from others about ballot tampering (specifically “shredding”) and noted that such actions would be illegal.  Where did he hear the allegations?  On a talk-radio show.

McKenna doesn’t appear to be claiming that these allegations are true, either, just that callers made them.  The “overcount” in Dane County is especially odd, since that kind of information requires a count of check-ins against ballots counted, a figure that not even Dane County likely has at the moment.  No one at a polling station would have been able to observe an “overcount” on that scale.

Having been a radio show host for several years in the Twin City through four elections, I can attest that not every allegation made on the air is the absolute sterling truth.  That doesn’t mean they’re all false, either, and Wisconsin has a recent history of voter fraud that certainly serves to reduce the trust in the system there.  Talk radio can help focus a spotlight on fraud, but it can also provide a lot of red herrings, too.  Wisconsin voters should demand transparency, but also should not jump to conclusions before assuming the entire election was stolen.

The problem here will be the same as it was in Minnesota in 2008.  All elections have irregularities, but most of the time the margins of victory are so substantial that no one cares.  In razor-close races, where emotions are already high, these irregularities will get an incredible amount of attention — and they should, so that the system can be improved.  No system can be made perfect, though, and it’s important to both be vigilant and discriminating when it comes to allegations of fraud.