A report on the quest for voting integrity in Wisconsin

Ok, I’ll warn you. I’m happy about something. I know. I know. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does – wow! It’s a great feeling.

A little over a year and a half ago ago I teamed up with some women who had been working very hard to nail down voting procedures in the state of Wisconsin. I helped them start a new website. I helped email their extensive lists of contacts. I even started attending committee hearings on the bills proposed.

Then I complained because it all looked like it was going to end without any resolution.

But look what happened! Sixteen new laws. This is was put together by Mary Ann Hanson, one of the leaders of that group, with the help of staff from Senator Lazich’s office. I’ve given Lazich tons of grief in the past, but she’s revamped her office for the better. The work she’s produced this year has been some of the finest to come from the capital.


Signed SB 20— Poll workers permitted to work within their county of residence

Introduced by Sens. Lazich, Cowles. Grothman, Miller and Reps. Bernier, Kleefisch, Bies, Thiesfeldt, Schraa

•Currently poll workers may only be assigned to work the polls in their own ward/municipality. This bill will allow poll workers to be assigned within their county of residence.

Signed: With Partial Veto SB324/AB 54— Revisions to laws regulating inperson-absentee voting.

Introduced by Sen. Grothmann and Reps. Strobel, Bies, Strachota, Craig, Ripp, LeMahieu, Spiros, Kleefisch, Sanfelippo, T.Larson, Weatherstone, Nass, A.Ott

•Revises time allowed for in-person absentee voting for state-wide elections to include a total of 45 hours per week for the two weeks (total of 90 hours) prior to Election Day and allows office of the clerk to be open from 8:00 a.m.to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. In-person absentee voting will not be permitted on Saturday or Sunday. Municipalities may hire additional individuals to assist with in-person absentee voting and the State will reimburse the municipality for 50% of that cost upon timely notice to the Dept. of Revenue.

*Note: Gov. Walker signed SB324 with a partial veto of the provision that limited the hours for in-person absentee to 45 hours a week. In-person absentee voting may be conducted between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, for the two weeks prior to Election Day, however, voting on Saturday or Sunday is not permitted. The governor, also, vetoed the portion of the bill that would have reimbursed local governments for costs associated with early voting.

Signed: SB 377/AB 690— Election Day Registration Statistics

Introduced by Sens. Lazich, Grothman and Reps. Pridemore, Weininger

•Provides the public with information about Election Day by requiring the Government Accountability Board (GAB) publish results of the Election Day voter registration audit and Election Day statistics on its website.

•Current law requires clerks to conduct an Election Day registration audit. However, the results of the audit are not readily available to the public. SB 377 requires the GAB publish data about Election Day statistics and the Election Day voter registration audit.

•This bill requires the results and data of this audit be forwarded to GAB and published on the GAB’s website:
(1) the total number of audit postcards mailed to Election Day Registrants to verify their addresses are correct,
(2) the total number of audit postcards returned because the elector did not reside at the address given,
(3) the total number of electors with status changed from eligible to ineligible on the registration list as a result of the mailing, and
(4) the number of individuals referred to the district attorney.

•Existing law already requires municipal clerks submit certain election related statistics and information to the county clerk and GAB. The bill requires the information be posted on the GAB website. The data already supplied by clerks to the GAB includes:
oThe number of electors that voted,
oThe number of electors registered to vote in advance of the election,
oThe number of electors who registered to vote after close of registration.
oThe number registering to vote the day of the election.
oThe total number of electors voting absentee ballots

Signed: SB 548/ AB 689— Four Year Maintenance of SVRS

Introduced by Sen. Lazich and Reps. Thiesfeldt and Bernier

•Establishes accountability for maintenance of the Statewide Voter Registration System to ensure the registration list is current and accurate, preventing voter impersonation during Election Day.

•This bill also requires GAB to publish the data from the Four-Year Maintenance on its website.

•This data will include the number of notices mailed, the number of requests for continuation of registration, and the number of electors’ status changed from active to inactive.

Signed: SB 655— Omnibus Campaign Finance Law Revisions

Introduced by Sen. Lazich and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald

•Increases threshold for committee and individual registrations from the current $25.00 to $300.00. Increases the registration threshold for referenda activity to $2,500.00.

•Modifies the treatment of committee contributions to a candidate campaign committee. This bill will apply candidate committee contributions to the party campaign committee limit rather than the political action committee limit.

•Allows for a conduit to redirect donations from non-active donors, after two years of inactivity and 10 attempts to contact.

•Adopts Federal Election Commission rules about internet activity.
oExcludes from reporting requirements certain non-compensated, volunteer internet political activities by an individual such as blogging, Facebook, and email.
oExcludes cost of covering or carrying a news story, commentary or editorial from reporting requirements unless the news medium is owned by a candidate or political party.

•Extends the reporting time period for contributions or disbursements made within 15 days of an election from the current 24 hours to 48 hours.

•Eliminates requirement to file an additional hard copy of an electronically filed campaign report. Allows for an electronic signature or submission of a single page with signature.

•Lobbyist contributions may be made only between the day nomination papers are circulated and the day of the election. This change is made due to the federal MOVE Act legislation that adjusted voting dates. The bill prohibits lobbyist contributions while the legislature is in session.

Signed: AB 89— Permits small wards to be combined in one polling place

Introduced by Reps. Bernier, Berceau, Bies, Tittl, Theisfeldt ,Murphy, Jacque, Sargent, Spiros, Pridemore, LeMahieu, Strobel and Sens. Leibham, Lazich, Moulton, Olson, Risser, Hesselbein

•Provides a method of combining small wards for voting purposes, unless separate returns are required to determine results of an election, but requires that the election returns from all wards be reported separately.

Signed: AB 396/ SB 297— Revisions to voting in nursing homes and other residential care facilities

Introduced by Reps. Bernier, Strobel, Bies, Kestell, Pridemore, Kleefisch, Ballweg, Kestell, Pridemore, Kleefisch, Murphy , Craig and Sens. Lazich, Grothmann, Vukmir, Tiffany, Moulton, Darling

•Revises statutes governing absentee voting conducted by Special Voting Deputies (SVDs) in residential care facilities. SVD service must be offered to qualified electors when there are 5 residents in a facility who are registered voters of the municipality and at least 1 voter requests an absentee ballot. Notice of the date of SVD voting must be given 5 days prior to the day the SVDs will conduct the voting and clerks must provide public notice of the date in the media and via the internet if the clerk maintains an internet connection. In addition, the SVDs are required to return all ballots to their clerk within 18 hours of the voting.

Signed: AB 420— Requires printed and written signature by citizens signing certain election documents

Introduced by Reps. Jim Ott, Tittl, Thiesfeldt, Peterson, Marklein, T. Larson, Pridemore, Kleefisch, Ballweg, Petryk, A. Ott, LeMahieu, Murtha, Brooks, Bernier, Ripp
and Sen. Vukmir

•Requires legibly printed as well as written signatures on all nomination papers and referendum petitions

Signed: AB567/SB421— Makes various changes to public records access laws as requested by the State Legislative Reference Bureau.Introduced by the Law Revision Committee, Co-Chairs, Sen, Grothman and Rep. Jim Ott

•Makes clear that the law covers every state or local agency and also every “public body corporate and politic”, and this specifically covers all special purpose districts under the law. Special purpose districts include, school districts, technical college districts, metropolitan sewerage districts, town sanitary districts, and public inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts.

•Modified definition of “record”, includes electronically stored records and eliminated obsolete or redundant references.

•Applies law to every elective official who is a custodian of records whether elected or appointed to that office

•Modifies current law so that individual only has access to records personally identifying him/herself.

•Modified term “person authorized by the individual” to clearly cover exercise of durable power of attorney.

•Substitutes the term “copying” for “photocopying” to allow for other forms of copying. Removes references to “tapes” to recognize other modes of copying audio and video material.

•Reorganizes and changes provisions addressing access to the names of final candidates for positions

•Standardizes certain words used to conform to defined terminology and corrects titles for accuracy

•For further information: See NOTES provided by the Law revision Committee of the Joint Legislative Council


SB 267: Recording type and number of identifying document used by elector as proof of residence when registering to vote

Introduced by: Sens. Lazich, Grothman, Vukmir and Darling and Reps. Bernier, Strachota, Sanfellipo, Tittl, Knodl and Pridemore

•Requires a poll worker, and any other person registering voters, to enter onto the voter registration form the name and last four digits of the ID or account number of the entity or institution on the proof of residency offered by the person registering to vote. If the ID number is 6 numbers or less, the poll worker is to enter only the last two numbers for security reasons. This number is listed on the registration form but not the supplemental poll list.

•This revised, mandated, process applies to all voter registrations, not just those done on Election Day.

AB 202: Revises Election Observer Rule

Introduced by Reps. Pridemore, Tittl, Bies, Kleefisch, Weininger

•Allows election observers to be placed within 3- 8 feet of the registration table at a polling place and the table at which electors announce their name and address to be issued a voter number. Previous rule was 6-12 feet from the above locations

AB 419: Counting Votes for write-in Candidates

Introduced by Reps. Bernier, Berceau, Murphy, Pridemore, Thiesfeldt, Weininger,Nerison

•Under current law, generally every vote at an election is counted for the candidate for whom it was intended, if the elector’s intent can be determined from the ballot itself. Under this bill, generally, write-in votes are only counted if no candidates have been certified to be on the ballot. If there is a certified candidate (s) on the ballot, write-in votes are only counted for candidates who have filed registration statements with the GAB. If a certified candidate dies or withdraws before the election, all write-in votes are counted.

AB 606: Revises signature requirements for nomination papers for city offices

Introduced by Rep. Thiesfeldt, Spiro, Jacque, Bies, Nass, Born, Kulp, Tittl and Sens. Grothmann, Gudux

•Revises signature requirements for nominations to city-wide offices in 2nd and 3rd class cities. Existing law requires nominees for at-large aldermanic offices to obtain not less than 200 nor more than 400 signatures. This bill provides that for at-large aldermanic elections, not less than 100 nor more than 200 nomination signatures are required.

SB 262/AB 394: Labeling of Duplicate Ballots

Introduced by Sens. Lazich, Vukmir, Grothman, Darling and Reps. Bernier and Sanfelippo

•Requires duplicate ballots be marked in a uniform manner throughout the entire state. This eases the recount process and provides better administration.

SB 265: Party Representation of Poll Workers

Introduced by Sens. Lazich, Leibham, Vukmir, Darling and Reps. Bernier, Sanfelippo, Pridemore

•Requires, insofar as practical, each party have representation on each specific job within the polling place for each job requiring two or more people.

•The bill strengthens the fairness and security of elections by requiring, as practical, each party have representation on each specific job within the polling place for each task requiring two or more people.

SB 264: Securing the Ballot Container

Introduced by Sens. Lazich, Vukmir, Darling and Reps. Bernier, Knodl, T. Larson, Sanfelippo

•Under this bill, only the chief inspector and one other inspector with party affiliation different than the chief inspector’s party affiliation may secure the ballot container.

•This provides accountability and chain of authority for the important task of securing the ballot container.

You’ll notice those last few have not been signed. The Governor still has Wednesday, I think, to do it. And he should put his name to all of them. After all, nothing is more important that making sure each qualified elector has one vote, and that it is recorded accurately and securely.

Hey, you know what else makes me happy? That little bill about shielding donor employer info didn’t make it through.

With all the above plus Walker’s promise to call a special session to right Voter ID should it need correcting, it’s been a good legislative session. For me anyway.

UPDATE! Word was out yesterday that the governor will sign the rest of the bills.