Monday, February 6, 2012

Illinois Review: Little Pavel Has a Bratwurst

By John F. Di Leo   on 7/14/10

Join us today, as our young campaign volunteer learns how votes are stolen in Wisconsin.
“Hello, Pockets!” shouted an exuberant Pavel Syerov Jr. (Paul to his friends), as he bounded into 51st ward headquarters after school.  “Got anything new today, or same as usual?”
Pockets, the longtime deputy committeeman and day-to-day office manager, chuckled at has favorite volunteer’s lively arrival.  “Wish we had some precincts to walk, to use up some of that energy, son.  But no, just a mailing to collate.  Pull up a seat, Paully, and gimme a hand, eh?”
Pavel stopped at the refrigerator and brought back a diet cola for himself and a beer for the old man, and took his spot on the opposite side of the collating table, then sat down to work on the week’s mailing.

“So how’s it going with your new girlfriend, Paully?  Taking her out again this weekend?  Another show?”
“Fraid not, Pockets.  She’s going up to Wisconsin with her folks this weekend.  Guess I may as well hang out here as long as you have something for me to do.”
“Wisconsin, eh?”  Pockets took a long draw off his beer.  “Big election in Wisconsin today.  Late primary.  Crazy-late.  Total incumbency-protection-plan late.  Have we ever talked about Wisconsin?”
“Not specifically, Pockets.”  Pavel could see a lesson ahead, so he opened up a bag of honey wheat braid pretzels and restocked Pockets’ snack bowl.  “I wouldn’t think there was much to tell about Wisconsin.  Fighting Bob LaFollette, all those good government rules – campaign finance limits, old Senator Proxmire’s famous dirt-cheap campaigns – squeaky clean, right?”
At this, Pockets nearly fell off his seat laughing.  “Dunno where ya got your information, son, but it’s dated!  The LaFollettes were a century ago, and Proxmire over a generation ago.  Wisconsin’s wide open for us, Paully, wide open.”
Pavel opened up the notebook he kept in his head, and asked the old pro to tell him all about it.
Well, it all starts with registration.  In Wisconsin, they want to make it easy for everyone to vote, so they allow onsite registration.  There’s no deadline; you can just show up at the polls ready to vote, not on the list, give ‘em your name and address, and they sign you up right there and then, and hand you a ballot!”
“How does that help us, Pockets?” asked the boy.  “I’m sure both Republicans and Democrats alike use this feature, right?”
“Not really, son.  Republicans tend to be more organized than our folks; they register to vote well in advance of the deadline.  We have a lot more Democrat voters who forget about it until the last minute, so it’s really just in there for our side.”
“Okay, so that’s still not anything sneaky, just us doing what the law was set out to do – enabling everybody to vote who’s entitled.  I suppose they show a driver’s license, or a utility bill, or something like that, to prove who they are and where they live, right?”
Pockets smiled and had another swig of beer.  “Nope!  They don’t hafta show anything at all in Wisconsin.  All they really need is a friend or neighbor who lives in the same city to vouch for them.  So for example, what we’ve done in the past is, we’ll get some pros sent in from Washington or New York to help us out on an election, and they walk in with our regulars on election day.  The regulars say ‘yup, he’s my roommate’ or ‘yup, he lives across the hall from me,’ and the judges hafta let ‘em vote!  What a system, huh?”  read the whole story

Illinois Review: Little Pavel Has a Bratwurst

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