The GOP Loves Absentees

The GOP Loves Absentees

Primary sources exposed and explained.
Nov. 6 2006 5:28 PM

The GOP Loves Absentees

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On the eve of the Nov. 7 election, National Journal'spolitical briefing site,  Hotline, posted a Nov. 6 e-mail to the party faithful from Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.  In the e-mail, reproduced below, Anunzis takes an early bow ("Now that it is too late for the Democrats to react") for a scheme to solicit absentee ballot votes from a very specific segment of the electorate: a million or so Michigan voters who would vote for Republican candidates if they voted at all but, based on their voting history, are not considered likely to vote in a nonpresidential year.

In the e-mail's third and fourth paragraphs, Anuzis explains that the party worked out a plan to "deliver  Absentee Ballot applications to these [sometime] voters" and then monitored nearly 90 percent of all jurisdictions and voters in the state every day to determine who "requested and/or returned" them. The GOP effort persistently targeted the "absent" voters with repeated follow-up "messaging based on the issues most likely to ensure they get out and vote," through "millions of pieces of mail" and "more than one million phone calls." It was clearly successful. In the fifth paragraph, Anuzis boasts: "Our target Republicans account for 269,650 (61.95%) of all [absentee] ballots returned so far," while "ID'd Democrats account for only 21.5% of returned ballots."

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Anuzis' absentee-hunt is probably legal, but that may not be true of the absentee ballots that voters filed as a result. Michigan law permits absentee voting only if the voter is age 60 or older; unable to vote without assistance; expecting to be out of town on Election Day; in jail awaiting arraignment or trial; unable for religious reasons to go to the polls; or appointed to work that day as an election inspector. A disinclination to vote in nonpresidential elections unless whipped into a last-minute frenzy by the Michigan GOP appears nowhere on the list.

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