A Racine area organization with ties to both the Democratic Party and a Chicago-based community-organizing group may have violated Wisconsin election law late last week. Two churches that are part of the liberal-leaning Racine Interfaith Coalition hosted early voting events in which food was offered in an apparent inducement to encourage voters to cast early ballots for the June 5 recall election. A third church told Media Trackers that it was coordinating voter turnout efforts with the Democratic Party.
The Racine Interfaith Coalition is an association of some faith communities in the Racine area. It is directly tied to WISDOM, a statewide community-organizing group, and the Gamaliel Foundation in Chicago, which formerly employed President Barack Obama as an organizer. Jane Witt, the chairperson of the Democratic Party of Racine County sits on the coalition’s board.
The Racine Journal Times noted last week that the Racine Interfaith Coalition was planning on holding early voting events at which meals would be served. Wisconsin state election law clearly prohibits the giving of anything of value (exceeding $1) to “induce” a voter to “go to or refrain from going to the polls” or “vote or refrain from voting.” [Wisconsin Statutes 12.11(a)]
On Thursday, a Media Trackers researcher visited an early voting breakfast event hosted by Changing Lives Ministries. Pastor Mike Miller, one of the event organizers, explained the event saying, “So we are having breakfast here this morning as a way of gathering people and encouraging them to go out and vote.” When pressed about whether or not the event was meant to specifically get people to vote, Miller affirmed that was indeed the purpose of the meal and event.
Democrats in Wisconsin are getting desperate. They’ve even gone so far as to mail residents pamphlets informing residents of their neighbors’s voting histories.