Frustrations Continue to Grow with Wisconsin Elections Commission

by Benjamin Yount


The relationship between Wisconsin’s Elections Commission, state lawmakers, and voters is not improving.

Members of the legislature’s rulemaking body on Tuesday criticized the commission for once again failing to vote on rules for ballot drop boxes in the state.

“While WEC appears to be moving toward partial compliance with JCRAR’s January 10th motion, it appears to have no interest in submitting its policies on drop boxes to the Legislature,” Republican members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules said in a statement.

On Monday, The Elections Commission voted to send guidance to local election clerks allowing them to “cure” ballots by filling in missing information without having to contact the actual voter. Wisconsin law does not allow for this.

JCRAR is likely to scuttle that guidance.

“If WEC submits a rule to the Legislature addressing ballot curing, we are fully prepared to suspend it if we and our legislative colleagues deem it necessary,” their statement read.

But it is the ballot drop box guidance that the JCRAR members want.

“It appears WEC has no interest in complying with JCRAR’s motion requiring them to submit their drop box policies to the Legislature,” the Republicans wrote. “If WEC does not change course, it will be a blatant violation of the law and the Legislature’s oversight, and we will be discussing options with our colleagues to compel WEC to follow the law.”

The growing frustration at the Capitol comes as voters seem fed up with the Elections Commission as well.

On Wednesday, the Institute for Reforming Government released a poll that said voters are interested in replacing the Commission with an elected elections manager.

“The poll found that only one-third of voters support the current system, with a plurality of Wisconsinites supporting – by a 38-33 margin – vesting elections oversight with a statewide elected official,” IRG President CJ Szafir said. “Notably, plurality support for vesting elections oversight receives bipartisan support. Democrats support this oversight reform by a 44-35 margin while Republicans support it by a 38-31 margin.”

The poll said only independent voters in the state want to keep the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

“Thirty three states empower voters with the ability to hold the top elections official accountable, and Wisconsin should as well” Szafir said. “It is time for Wisconsin to abolish the Wisconsin Elections Commission and remove the oversight of elections from the WEC that is often deadlocked when it comes to important decisions. Abolishing the WEC would give power back to the people, allowing them to hold the elected official accountable at the ballot box. It also provides greater accountability and frees elections oversight from bureaucratic deadlock.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu have both said they don’t support “blowing-up” the Elections Commission. But they do want some reforms as quickly as possible.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Wisconsin State Capitol” by Vijay Kumar Koulampet CC BY-SA 3.0.




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