Illinois Democrat: Mark Kirk’s ‘Voter Integrity’ Effort Is ‘Karl Rove Politics’

Illinois GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk is taking some heat from his Democratic opponent Alexi Giannoulias for bragging on a secretly-recorded phone call about his “voter integrity” project, which he said focused on two largely African-American sections of Chicago and two other urban areas in the state.

Kirk said on the tape recorded last week that he had arranged for lawyers and other people to be “deployed in key, vulnerable precincts, for example, South and West sides of Chicago, Rockford, Metro East, where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat.”

Giannoulias said in a statement on Wednesday that he would have his lawyers look into Kirk’s effort.

“That sort of Florida-style voter intimidation is disgusting, illegal, and smacks of the Karl Rove politics that Illinois voters are sick of,” Giannoulias said.Michael C. Dorf, a lawyer for the Giannoulias campaign, sent a letter to the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney. In the letter obtained by TPMMuckraker, Dorf alleged that the tactics used by Republicans and identified by groups like Project Vote are “scare tactics” which he said “violate both state and federal voter protection laws.”

In an interview with TPMMuckraker, Dorf said that so-called anti-voter fraud efforts appear to be a strategy of Republican nationally.

“It does seem to be an institutional strategy to be doing this type of work, and certainly we believe these are code words they have been using, like ‘voter integrity.’ Earmarking minority and low-income sites to do it in, there’s no excuse for what they’re trying to do,” Dorf said.

He said the Giannoulias campaign asked state officials to provide additional personnel on election day to protect voters.

“We also are writing similar letters to other states attorneys, to the three U.S. Attorneys for the northern, central and southern districts of Illinois, to Lisa Madigan, the state attorney general, as well as to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division,” Dorf said. “So we’re putting the word out, we’re putting everyone on notice that this is going on.”

Separately, Will Crossley, DNC Counsel and Director of Voter Protection, wrote that Kirk has explicitly embraced Karl Rove’s “brand of dirty politics” and his decision to “openly endorse and fund the largest voter suppression effort in Illinois in 15 years is shockingly despicable.”

“The simple truth is this: in Illinois’ neck and neck Senate race, Republicans are trying to pull out a victory not by bringing their supporters to the polls, but by preventing Democratic voters from casting their ballots. The climate may be a little cooler, but this could be Florida 2000 all over again,” Crossley wrote.

Multiple calls to the Kirk campaign were not returned.