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Election Officials Concerned About Facebook Posting Targeting Recall Petition Signers

A concerning Facebook page surfaced a few days ago. It was posted by a group calling itself Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia. 

The page indicated its members would head to the polls on Election Day, and confront some people who signed petitions to recall Gov. Walker in 2012. They would specifically target people with outstanding arrest warrants or tax delinquencies.

The Facebook comments have now been removed. But before they were, they indicated that a group called Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia would approach certain voters in Milwaukee, Racine and Beloit.

Jay Heck saw the post. He works for the watchdog group, Common Cause in Wisconsin.

“Some have suggested this is a hoax, it may or may not be. Our concern is that, this is a violation of Wisconsin law, Wisconsin election law. It’s not permitted to intimidate voters at the polling place, it’s not okay to try to bully people or prevent them from casting a ballot,” Heck says.

On Wednesday, Heck sent a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen, asking his office to investigate the group. Another person who notified authorities is Neil Albrecht, Milwaukee’s election commissioner. He saw the postings earlier this month.

“We need to be cautious about any kind of voter intimidation given how politically charged this election is going to be and so just as a precaution, I forwarded the link to the site to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office and asked them to take a look at it, to make a determination as to whether there might be any validity to some of the statements,” Albrecht says.

Albrecht says the DA’s office has promised to look into the matter. He says local law enforcement typically has a strong presence at the polls on Election Day, and he’s alerted Milwaukee police to watch for signs of people intimidating voters.

As for the state Justice Department, it says it plans to dispatch agents and attorneys on Nov. 4, to watch polling places.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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