A shocking story is currently circulating among our regional blogs. The original posting seems to be at AVT. I reproduce most of it here:
Peter Cari - The head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) saw a troubling trend in October 2004. Word began leaking from the Daschle Voter ID program that a number of respondents were Thune and Herseth voters.
Sources close to Cari say on October 17th, 2004 he placed an emergency call to Herseth. He laid out her two choices. Herseth could let the Daschle team throw out the Thune/Herseth voters and risk a narrow win - or follow a secret plan.
Herseth instructed Cari to initiate a complicated computer subterfuge on the Daschle Voter ID program. Using a cryptic formula developed by a Cari staffer - the Herseth campaign downloaded a "virus" into the South Dakota Democratic voter turnout program that "masked" Thune/Herseth voters as Daschle/Herseth voters.
I take it for granted that AVT is faithfully reporting what it has heard, but I note that the "sources close to Cari" are not identified. For that reason I think we have to consider the story suspicious at this point, and accordingly I call it a rumor.
But if it is a fabrication, it is a very intelligent one, for it raises a very interesting question. As the election approached both sides were using their voter ID programs to figure out who should be encouraged to vote and, just as important, who should not be encouraged to vote. It must surely be the case that the Democrats identified many voters who were planning to vote for Herseth but against Daschle. What would the Democratic party do with those names? Herseth probably figured she had the election in the bag, but it would have taken a lot of nerve to sacrifice some of her voting strength in order to protect Daschle.
It will be interesting to see what Peter Cari has to say about this, and whether any of the unnamed sources are willing to go on the record. It would also be interesting to inquire what the Thune campaign did with the opposite problem. I am sure that they went after every last voter and had to regard the Diedrich campaign as expendable. Its what I would have done.
Only the "stealth virus" part of the story indicates a scandal, but what a scandal if its true!