The leader of the 98,000-member strong union of Wisconsin teachers and educators said on Monday that the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker will be a squeaker but that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett can pull out a win.
"Everything is get out the vote," Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, told HuffPost. Her union is supporting Barrett after originally backing former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk in the Democratic primary.
That focus on turnout -- to the exclusion of additional attempts at voter persuasion -- mirrors much of what pollsters have been saying about the electorate in the state. The most recent survey of the race from Public Policy Polling put Walker ahead of Barrett by a 50 percent to 47 percent margin, with only three percent of voters undecided.
"For a long period of time Wisconsin citizens have been set," Bell said. But she believes Democrats can pull in enough first-time voters to change the dynamics of the race.
"Those polls all indicate likely voters," she said, "and what we know about this election is that there isn't anything 'likely' about any of it. And people who weren't necessarily voters in 2008 ... may be highly motivated to vote in this election.
"It's going to be an exceedingly close election. I believe that we have a chance to do this, but recalls by their very nature are supposed to be difficult."
Beyond the voter turnout slugfest, Bell sees one big question mark hovering over the recall: Whether Walker supporters will turn to voter suppression to win.
The Department of Justice will be monitoring elections in Milwaukee to make sure they comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Wisconsin Democrats alleged on Sunday that the state's attorney general, J. B. Van Hollen, has "targeted" Democratic-leaning sections of the state for election-day efforts against voter fraud. And Bell is concerned that voters will be challenged under the provisions of a new photo I.D. law, even though the law will not actually go into effect for this election because a judge has issued an injunction against it.
"We're always concerned about those things," Bell said. "You want to make sure that people get to the ballot box, and then you want to make sure that every vote that gets cast is counted."
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