All that the volunteers of Election Integrity Watch wanted was to make sure that voting stayed legal. (Not that that's ever been a problem here before.) But the group--comprised of Minnesota Majority, Minnesota Voters Alliance, Freedom Council and the Northstar Tea Party Patriots--was obsessed.[jump]
EIW urged volunteers to wear "Please ID Me" buttons and T-shirts with Tea Party slogans at the polls. It pushed people to follow voters around with notebooks and video cameras. And by Nov. 2, 10,265 people had signed up to spy on your vote.
But Monday, a federal judge said that gear was campaign material and not allowed. Those who wore it could still vote, but they would risk earning a petty misdemeanor. So Election Integrity Watch urged its followers to flout the law and wear the stuff anyhow.
On Election Day, the local Tea Party apparently got its wires crossed, and Tea Partier Andy Cilek says he got his right to vote squelched. According to the Associated Press, Cilek said that a judge at his precinct in Eden Prairie told him he couldn't vote in his Tea Party get-up.
But Kathleen Porta, the city clerk in Eden Prairie,says that's not true. She says it was actually a Republican poll watcher who told Cilek he wasn't allowed to vote. Oops.
Cilek's aggressive poll watcher wasn't the only one behaving badly. Election workers said that some of the people purporting to watch the polls to prevent voter fraud actually overstepped the bounds, moving into areas where they weren't allowed, and behaving aggressively. By the middle of hte day, election judges were having "firm words" with the vigilantes, the Strib reports, and documenting the situation to report to elections officials.