Is the Romney team training campaign workers to mislead voters?

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Volunteers make phone calls seeking support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at his Arlington Victory Center October 25, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Volunteers make phone calls seeking support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at his Arlington Victory Center October 25, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Think Progress investigation has exposed parts of a misleading training manual being distributed to Mitt Romney volunteers in the crucial swing state of Wisconsin.

From Think Progress:

Mitt Romney’s campaign has been training poll watchers in Wisconsin with highly misleading — and sometimes downright false — information about voters’ rights.

Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters. A source passed along the following packet of documents, which was distributed to volunteers at a Romney campaign training in Racine on October 25th. In total, eight such trainings were held across the state in the past two weeks and 17 since late September.

One blatant falsehood occurs on page 5 of the training packet, which informed poll watchers that any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. This is not true. Once a Wisconsin voter who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, that person is once again eligible to vote.

The training also encouraged volunteers to deceive election workers and the public about who they were associated with. On page 3 of the packet, Romney poll workers were instructed to hide their affiliation with the campaign and told to sign in at the polls as a “concerned citizen” instead. As Kristina Sesek, Romney’s legal counsel who just graduated from Marquette Law School last year, explained, “We’re going to have you sign in this election cycle as a ‘concerned citizen.’ We’re just trying to alleviate some of the animosity of being a Republican observer up front.”

This packet could cause major problems if Republican observers across the state try to enforce such wrong and misleading information on Election Day. Even if they simply slow the voting process down, this could discourage voters waiting in line and drive drown turnout.

Reached for comment, Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign said, “it’s obvious Democrats are losing when they start peddling the same tired and false attacks they use every election cycle. Our campaign is seeking open and fair elections where every legal vote counts and desperate claims otherwise are offensive and wrong.”

Williams said the Think Progress report left out several crucial pieces of information also contained in the flyers, including instructions to:

  • ALWAYS seek “a fair and open process where every person entitled to vote has the opportunity to legally cast a ballot and have that ballot counted properly”
  • ALWAYS obey proper orders from the chief election inspector.
  • NEVER “interfere with orderly conduct of polls”
  • NEVER “interfere with or delay the legal voting process”
  • NEVER “interfere with any individual’s right to legally cast a ballot”
  • “NOT tolerate any voter intimidation of suppression” that they see.

Meanwhile, a source close to the campaign told theGrio that Kristina Sesek, who was identified in the Think Progress piece as “Romney’s legal counsel,” actually works for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, not for the Romney campaign. The  Wisconsin Republican Party did not comment for this story. However, a source with direct knowledge of state party operations confirmed on background that Sesek works for the Wisconsin Republican Party.