This post has been updated. Please go here for the update and correction.
Sigh. I hate writing these posts. But it is necessary. Patrick Ruffini and I have both written about the need to purge the party of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back" consultant regime that gets us into so many problems. Truth be told, I wrote this post on November 21, 2008, but decided the damage was already done and I'd wait until after the runoff to shed a light on it.
Let me make this short and to the point:
A group called Majority Strategies did the famous Republican mail piece to Ohio and other states that had the absentee ballot form. Remember that one? It screwed up an absentee ballot mail piece into Ohio because it didn't understand Ohio law on absentee ballots. As a result, a lot of McCain voters had their absentee ballots rejected and McCain had to file suit over the rejections.
Majority Strategies sent out the same damn mail piece, without fixing the problem other than putting Georgia graphics on it, to Georgia voters for the Senate runoff. Luckily, the campaign staff at the NRSC caught the problem after some folks in Gwinnett County, Georgia had their absentee ballot applications rejected. But the damage was already done.1
Local election officials have said that they have never had anywhere close to this many absentee ballot applications invalidated – literally half in some of the biggest counties – and it’s because of poor, cookie cutter design that would easily have been fixed if it were done by someone who knew Georgia or by doing even basic due dilligence of checking with the Secretary of State to ensure the applications were correct and if there was anything that could cause them to be rejected.
This all begs the question: Who is Majority Strategies?
They've done mail for the GOP since 1996. The organization proudly features Brett Buerck as an employee. He was the Ohio Republican Consultant investigated in a federal money laundering investigation.
Majority Strategies' founder is Sam Van Voorhis.
Sam Van Voorhis is also doing the independent expenditures for the NRSC.
So you have the head of independent expenditures at the NRSC funneling money to his own firm (now called NextWave Communication) to send the same flawed mail piece to a different state causing the NRSC to then have to spend extra money it does not have on phone banking operations to cover their ass. Likewise, the Georgia GOP had to send out lots of email blasts to party faithful about the issue, which just caused them to spend a heck of a lot of time fielding questions about the absentee ballots as opposed to getting other people out to vote.
We need an Operation Leper for groups like this.
To be completely accurate, the problem with the Ohio absentee ballot request was not that it omitted the signature line, but that none was necessary. But since it was included, it had to be signed or the application was rejected. The problem, as I understand it, with the Georgia one is that the signature must be there to be valid but the line was very small, at the end of the form, and no notice was made that the signature was important.