WALLSBURG, Utah—Having little to show for the $60 million they pledged to defeat President Obama in the 2012 election cycle, Charles and David Koch decided to “bypass malicious voters” entirely and simply do away with elections.
The brothers’ test bed for the new strategy is the tiny town of Wallsburg, population 275. The town first came to the attention of political junkies two years ago when it was reported in The Salt Lake Tribune that Wallsburg accidentally failed to schedule an election.
When Wallsburg failed to hold an election again this past November, curious journalists from the Tribune traced the latest “oversight” back to the Koch brothers, who allegedly paid a town employee to “forget to make the necessary arrangements for Election Day.”
David Koch, speaking at a fundraiser for the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, described the original oversight as, “A wakeup call for those of us willing to vote with our wallets when our vote at the ballot box has been so unfavorably overwhelmed by liberals.”
A spokesperson for AFP insisted that Koch, one of the primary financial backers of the group, had been misquoted. Instead, he claimed that Koch had been worried about the negative impact of “voter fraud,” not liberals.
Several in the audience that day were unable to confirm the spokesperson’s account. Nevertheless, the Koch brothers long have been engaged in causes ostensibly aimed at eliminating voter fraud. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another advocacy group backed by the billionaires, drafted and promulgated strict voter ID legislation in more than 30 states.
Critics argue that such measures unfairly target minorities and the poor, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat. The Kochs claim, “While a .000000001 incidence of alleged in-person voter fraud may seem like a rounding error, we didn’t become billionaires by ignoring rounding errors like these.”
This is not the first time that the Kochs have been accused of suppressing the vote. Absentee ballot applications traced back to AFP contained misleading addresses and dates regarding the recent Wisconsin recall elections.
The legal pushback from the Wisconsin Democratic Party led the brothers to “start small and scale up,” according to an AFP official who asked for anonymity.
“By doing away with the vote in Wallsburg, David and Charles have completely eliminated the threat of voter fraud,” said the official. “Wallsburg will become the model for a nationwide ‘Block the Vote’ campaign—the only campaign there’ll be, if they are successful.”