"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
An ostensibly nonpartisan voter registration drive in Western Pennsylvania has triggered accusations that workers were cheated out of wages and given instructions to avoid adding anyone to the voter rolls who might support the Democratic presidential nominee.
Sproul & Associates, a consulting firm based in Chandler, Ariz., hired to conduct the drive by the Republican National Committee, employed several hundred canvassers throughout the state to register new voters. Some workers yesterday said they were told to avoid registering Democrats or anyone who indicated support for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry.
"We were told that if they wanted to register Democrat, there was no way we were to register them to vote," said Michele Tharp, of Meadville, who said she was sent out to canvass door-to-door and outside businesses in Meadville, Crawford County. "We were only to register Republicans."
Tharp said volunteers were sent door-to-door to seek registrants but were instructed to first ask prospective new voters which candidate they planned to support.
"If they said Kerry, we were just supposed to say thank you and walk away," Tharp said....
Much of the controversy yesterday centered on the registration drive in Crawford County, where canvassers claimed to be owed thousands of dollars after hunting out Bush supporters.
"If they were a Kerry voter, we were just supposed to walk away," said Michael Twilla, of Meadville, who said he has been paid for only eight of 72 hours he worked.
Twilla provided the Post-Gazette with a copy of the script he said he had been given.
It instructs the canvassers to hand unregistered Bush supporters a clipboard with a registration form, and to advise them the canvassers will personally deliver the forms to the local courthouse.
A lower portion of the form also advises the canvassers to ask undecided voters two questions: "Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro life?" and "Are you worried about the Democrats raising taxes?" If voters say they are pro-life, the form says, "Ask if they are registered to vote. If they are pro-choice, say thank you and walk away."
The form also tells canvassers, "If anyone asks who you are working for, it's 'Project America Vote.' "
America Votes, whose name is similar, is a self-described nonpartisan voter registration organization sponsored by generally liberal-leaning groups.
And - excuse me while I adjust my tinfoil hat - there's another odd coincidence here. It seems that the Pennsylvania workers came from a local temp agency called Career Concepts (although they, apparently, deny that). Career Concepts, in turn, was supposedly retained for the job by a Florida agency called Apple One. Why Florida, when Sproul is from Arizona? Could it be because Jenny Breslin/Breslyn and her firm, JSM Inc., are based in Florida? I've got no evidence to support that particular wild-assed guess (Google failed me again), but it strikes me as a distinct possibility.
Anyway, why is Nathan Sproul still out-of-custody? And why are Sproul's funders at the RNC still stonewalling?