Tag Archives: voter suppression

Ill omens: Hate crimes, voter suppression, appointment of Bannon

As civil rights leaders working for racial justice and economic opportunity, we join much of the nation in our apprehension about the incoming administration.

We cannot ignore that the campaign was characterized by divisive racial rhetoric and has emboldened white supremacists across the country.  The wave of hate crimes sweeping the country, with perpetrators invoking the name of the President-elect, is an ill omen, as is the appointment of a chief strategist with an appalling record of promoting racial, anti-Semitic and anti-woman rhetoric.

We were appalled by the calls for intimidation of voters at urban and rural polling places and will not forget.

Voter suppression had a measurable effect on elections in a number of states. While racial voter suppression was widespread, voter suppression was generational as well. Millennials, as a multiracial demographic, also were targeted by strict ID laws and poll closings affecting millions of youth, college and high school students, as well as young professionals. Addressing this  threat to our most vulnerable citizens and our still young democracy will be a top priority for our organizations in the coming weeks and months.

We have a responsibility to vigorously oppose any policies or actions which are inconsistent with our agenda or would serve to turn back the clock on hard-fought gains.  America’s advance toward diversity is not interrupted by the results of the election.

We will continue to battle discrimination, racial injustice and barriers to equal opportunity as we have done for decades. As always, we will advocate for the next President of the United States to honor and prioritize the Constitutional guarantee of equal protection, due process and full citizenship for every American. The President-elect needs to begin by repudiating hate crimes and attacks undertaken in his name and by announcing a commitment to abandon the divisive rhetoric and policy proposals of his campaign that are inconsistent with equality and opportunity for all.

Having earned a minority of the popular vote, elected with the support of only about a quarter percent of the adult population, the President-elect must recognize the challenge of his extremely narrow appeal to the American people. His obligation is to be President for All Americans.

Other important races on the ballot were significant for the advancement of the nation.

While Congress remains in control of leaders with a demonstrated history of obstructionism, we take encouragement from the election of the most diverse Congress in United States history.  When the 115th United States Congress is seated in January, it will include 100 women — notably Kamala Harris among the 23 elected to the Senate — and the largest-ever Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

We encourage every American to stand firm in the fight for the protection of civil rights and in opposition to racism and hate.

The statement was issued jointly by the following:

Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Wade Henderson, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League

The Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President, National Action Network

Wisconsin GOP leaders break their own law to suppress black vote

And the voter suppression continues.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration vowed to an appeals court that it would remove obstacles making it difficult for citizens to vote, even if those citizens lacked the usual required documentation, such as birth certificates. To prove it, the administration enacted a rule requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to mail a free photo ID within six business days to anyone who goes to a DMV office to set the registration process.

But with only a month left before a close presidential election, Walker’s transportation officials are nowhere near making good on that pledge, according to an independent investigation. U.S. District Judge James Peterson, who originated the decision leading to the administration’s new rule, has launched an aggressive investigation to learn why.

The Nation and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel both reported that the advocacy group Vote Riders sent voting-rights advocates to 10 area DMV offices, where they requested photo IDs.

Most of them were not given the correct information, and at least one was flatly turned down by a clerk who said birth certificates are required, even though signs on the premises stated otherwise. Only three out of the 10 offices abided by the rules.

This DMV chicanery isn’t the first time the state’s Republican leadership has been caught flouting election law to prevent citizens from registering. Shortly after Walker and the GOP took over state government, they began enacting a series of increasingly strict laws to keep suspected Democratic voters — blacks, Latinos, students, the elderly — away from the polls. Within months of Walker’s taking office, DMV clerks were told not to offer voter IDs for free, even though the law required them to do so.

Walker also began shutting down DMV offices and eliminating staff. He curtailed the operating hours of many DMVs, making it impossible for poor people to register without taking off work.

Walker said the cuts were needed to save money. But Republicans’ efforts to disenfranchise black voters have cost the state considerably. Walker’s onslaught of controversial voter-suppression laws has prompted one costly trial after another. The legal bills are likely to have drained millions of taxpayer dollars from state coffers.

Voting in Wisconsin is already hard. Only six other states — Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Kansas — have restrictions as prohibitive as Wisconsin. Yet, as we examined in our Sept. 22 issue, there is no evidence that voter fraud is a problem here or anywhere else.

There’s ample evidence — including revealing statements from backers of ID laws — that the GOP’s voting “reform” campaign seeks to keep African Americans and other likely Democratic voters away from the polls.

We applaud Judge Peterson’s commitment to get to the bottom of this current scandal. We’re counting on him to ensure there are consequences for the Walker administration’s latest despicable attack on democracy.

Voting rights is a bipartisan issue, and we urge Republican readers to join with Democrats and tell officials to stop trying to win elections by cheating. Remind them that it’s possible to win by providing responsible government to all Wisconsin citizens, no matter what their skin color or political affiliation.

They should try it sometime.

Infants in the Senate stall judicial confirmation

When a teenager calls your actions infantile, you know you’re doing something wrong. Still, t Infants inspire me; they are strong, creative and have impressive learning curves. Some senators, meanwhile, are using their stubbornness and creativity to block progress and write a new version of U.S. history that allows them to stave off confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee. This has been discussed in many articles.

What has been less discussed is how U.S. youth are directly affected by the Senate’s inaction. Global climate change is a real and current threat, most directly affecting low-income communities and communities of color. In recent years, we’ve seen mass shooting after mass shooting in our schools. States like North Carolina pass harmful and oppressive anti-LGBT legislation. And states like Wisconsin enact voter suppression laws that disproportionately affect people of color and young people. Our nation’s courts often have the final word on these laws and issues.

But the Senate is putting a strain on the courts at every level. Young people are hurt when we don’t have fully-staffed, functioning courts. This is why Sen. Ron Johnson’s current obstruction of the confirmation process, combined with his history of obstructing confirmations in Wisconsin district courts, is so dangerous.

I do not mean to suggest that the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, should by default become our next Supreme Court justice. Garland must be asked serious questions, including questions about money in politics and habeas corpus rights. But he must not be silenced. Garland and every individual currently nominated for a judicial appointment — at every level — deserve a fair confirmation hearing and an up-or-down vote.

To achieve those hearings, I suggest we return to our infancy. We will be stubborn and strong-willed. We will not back down, and we will continue to demand that judicial nominees have hearings.
We will be creative. Overwhelming Johnson’s office with letters and phone calls. We will remind him to do his job and that we will heading to our polling places in November. It may not sound creative, but in an age when apathy plagues our politics, voting is perhaps as innovative as it gets.

We will learn. We will reflect on past elections when obstacles were placed between us and our voting booths and we will help our neighbors to ensure that history does not repeat itself. We will reflect on Wisconsin’s history of protest (Act 10 anyone?) and remember that we can come together in important ways.
When we do, our legislators remember whom they represent and our voices are heard.

Joseph Flegel-Mishlove is a native of Shorewood. In August, he will return for his second year at Oberlin College.

Common Cause calls for public action to stop Republicans’ latest voter-suppression bill

On Feb. 9, the Wisconsin Senate passed, along partisan lines, hyper-partisan legislation — Senate Bill 295 — which eliminates the ability of organizations like the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Voces de la Frontera and even city and municipal clerks to be able to conduct effective voter registration drives. The measure also stipulates that mailed absentee ballots not received by Election Day will not be counted. Currently, absentee ballots that have a postmark on Election Day are counted. So that means thousands of absentee ballots will be disqualified! 

While SB 295 does provide for some online voter registration — a positive thing — the obvious hyper-partisan voter suppression provisions (added in secret and without a public hearing) render this legislation utterly unsupportable. Both state Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), the primary author of this abomination, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau,) were both incapable of being able to defend the legislation during the floor debate last week and simply called for partisan votes to defeat Democratic amendments that would have improved the bill. A number of Democratic state senators were outstanding in their determined assault on this measure: Julie Lassa of Stevens Point, Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee, Mark Miller of Monona, Jon Erpenbach of Middleton, Fred Risser of Madison, Chris Larson of Milwaukee, Janet Bewley of Ashland and Dave Hansen of Green Bay. 

The Assembly is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 295 tomorrow, Tuesday — Feb. 16 — and it is vitally important that you contact your State Representatives and inform them of your opposition to this legislation in its current form. One critical reason to do so is to build the public record in opposition to this and other anti-democratic legislation, as was done last fall when the GOP destroyed the non-partisan Government Accountability Board and transformed Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws into among the very weakest and most susceptible to corruption in the nation. Real citizens do not support this stuff — special interest-controlled politicians do. If you do not know who your state representative is, go here.

To find out more about this measure and why CC/WI does not support it — and why you need to oppose it, too, go here, here, here, here and here.  

Don’t let voter suppression win

Please don’t sit out the election because the state has erected barriers to you exercising your right to vote. Clear the hurdles. Cast your ballot in the Nov. 4 election and support civil rights advocates fighting to overturn voter suppression laws.

 WiG has compiled details about the voter ID law and the Nov. 4 election.

Present one of the following kinds of photo ID to cast a ballot

• Wisconsin driver’s license (current or expired after Nov. 6, 2012).

• Wisconsin photo ID card from the Department of Motor Vehicles (current or expired after Nov. 6, 2012).

• Receipt from the DMV showing application for an ID within 45 days.

• U.S. Passport (current or expired since Nov. 6, 2012).

• Naturalization certificate (from Nov. 6, 2012 to present).

 • Military ID (current or expired since Nov. 6, 2012).

• Photo ID from a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin.

• Student ID from a Wisconsin college or university, but only if the ID contains a name, photo, signature, issuance date and expiration date and the student has proof of enrollment.

The photo ID does not need to include a current address to be valid for voting. Poll workers are supposed to look at the name and the photo.

To apply for a free voter ID at the DMV, you must

• Present proof of identity, such as a Social Security Card, pay stub with a SS number, W-2 form, discharge papers, court order, federal ID card, driver’s license, marriage certificate or college photo ID.

• Present proof of residence, such as a utility bill, mobile phone bill, bank statement, current insurance policies, original lease agreements or deeds.

• Present a birth certificate or follow the “document process verification” at the DMV to obtain proof of name and date of birth. You’ll need to state that you do not have a birth certificate and that it would require a fee to obtain one.

The ACLU of Wisconsin advises those who seek to obtain a photo ID without a birth certificate to bring any available proof of name and date of birth, including records from a baptismal, hospital birth, early school, family Bible and U.S. Census account, as well as a doctor’s record of post-natal care or a delayed birth certificate.

Hassles at the DMV

The ACLU of Wisconsin asks people who encounter problems obtaining photo IDs without birth certificates to call 414-272-4032. The nonprofit also has a survey form on its website at aclu-wi.org.

Military and overseas voters do not need a photo ID to cast ballots.

Voters who are elderly or disabled and considered “indefinitely confined” to home can vote absentee by mail without a photo ID, but they must mark that on the ballot application form.

Getting registered,

staying registered

Wisconsin law requires voters to maintain current registrations. A person must complete a voter registration application if he or she is a new Wisconsin voter, has changed a name or residential address or not voted in the past four years.

Voter registrations can be updated by mail, at city halls and at polling places on Election Day.

On the Web

Wondering if your registration is up-to-date? Where to vote? What’s on the ballot? Or the status of your absentee ballot? Go to myvote.wi.gov.

Eliminating voter hours is undemocratic

Gov. Scott Walker recently signed the Wisconsin legislature’s partisan, anti-democratic bill (Wisconsin Bill 146)  to reduce voter turnout. It’s a bill that restricts the hours for voting early on weekdays and eliminates early voting on weekends altogether.

 This was the second time Wisconsin Republicans have set limits on early voting since Walker and GOP lawmakers took control of state government in January 2011. 

In 2011, the Wisconsin Legislature cut early voting from three weeks, including three weekends, to two weeks, including one weekend. This time, under the legislation as rewritten by Walker, early voting in clerk’s offices could take place solely on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This legislation is an unnecessary fix to a voting system that isn’t broken.  If anything, elected officials should be working on ways to increase participation in our democracy, not reduce it.

For the 2012 election, the weather was cold and wet in Wisconsin, and we still had 70-percent voter turnout. Wisconsin should be taking pride in that, not putting up obstacles that will reduce turnout. Regardless of background, income, age or ZIP code, all Wisconsinites who are eligible to vote should have the opportunity to do so with as much ease as their government can afford them.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is a Democrat who represents southwest Wisconsin.

Obama: Voting rights in U.S. under withering attack

President Barack Obama said the Republican Party is threatening voting rights in America more than at any point since the passage of a historic 1965 law expanding rights at the ballot box to millions of black Americans and other minorities.

Obama’s critique of Republicans came as he seeks to mobilize voters ahead of the November congressional elections, when Democratic control of the Senate is at stake, as is the president’s already limited ability to push his agenda through Congress. Many in Obama’s party fear state voting requirements and early balloting restrictions will curb turnout that is critical to Democratic hopes of prevailing.

“The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,” Obama told a crowd of about 1,600 people at civil rights activist Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference, held in a New York hotel ballroom.

It was the second day in a row that America’s first black president has delivered a speech about race, an issue that has not often been at the forefront of his agenda. Obama has faced criticism from some African-Americans for doing too little to help minorities, but he has focused more acutely on inequality in his second term.

For the remainder of the year, no political issue stands out more prominently for Democrats than their ability to motivate voters to turn out at the polls in the November midterm elections. A Republican takeover of the Senate would crush Obama’s already limited ability to push his agenda through Congress. The Republicans are virtually certain to keep their majority in the House of Representatives, but the fight for the Senate is expected to be tight.

Turnout by Democrats has been traditionally weak in elections when the White House is not at stake. That, coupled with efforts in some states to limit early voting and to enact voter identification requirements, has prompted Obama and his party to raise alarms and step up their get-out-the-vote efforts.

The president vowed that he would not let the attacks on voting rights go unchallenged, but he offered no new announcements of specific actions his administration planned to take.

Just last year, seven states passed voter restrictions, ranging from reductions in early voting periods to identification requirements, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. North Carolina alone adopted a photo ID requirement, eliminated registrations on Election Day and reduced the number of early voting days. Overall 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls.

The president pinned efforts to curb access to the ballot box directly on the Republicans, declaring that the effort “has not been led by both parties. It’s been led by the Republican Party.” Mocking the Republicans, he said, “What kind of political platform is that? Why would you make that a part of your agenda, preventing people from voting?”

Republicans have long argued that identification requirements and other voting controls are reasonable measures designed to safeguard the balloting process, not to suppress voter turnout. Democrats say photo identification requirements especially affect minority or low-income voters who may not drive and thus wouldn’t have an official government ID.

A spokeswoman for Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a state whose voting laws are being challenged by the Obama administration, said the Supreme Court has ruled that voter identification laws are constitutional.

“Protecting the integrity of the voting process is something that benefits everyone, partisan politics do not,” the spokeswoman, Megan Mitchell, said.

The Obama administration has also challenged the North Carolina election law. That state’s measures, which take effect in the 2016 election, came after the Supreme Court last June threw out the crucial section of the Voting Rights Act that required that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mainly in the South, get federal approval before changing their election laws.

Obama’s speech to a crowd of about 1,600 in a New York hotel ballroom came a day after he marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the landmark law that ended racial discrimination in public spaces.

The anniversary has brought renewed attention to the accomplishments of the civil rights movement. A CBS News poll found that more than 3 in 4 Americans say there has been progress in getting rid of racial discrimination. But those views split racially, with whites much more likely than African-Americans to think real progress has been achieved.

Republican Gov. Scott plans to restart voter purge in Florida

Republican Gov. Rick Scott plans to restart a voter purge in Florida.

A federal judge this week lifted the order that had halted the purge begun in 2012, the presidential election year.

State officials had come under fire because some of the voters targeted for removal were U.S. citizens.

Two Democratic members of Congress – U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings – have written to Scott to ask him to reconsider. They said that last year’s effort to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the state’s voter rolls was flawed.

The representatives in their letter urged the state to review its procedures before resuming its efforts.

State officials say they can now accurately identify illegally registered voters because they have access to a national immigration database.

Ballot box bullies | Citizens fight back to protect their right to vote

A third of voters may go to sleep on the eve of the general election with Hitchcockian visions of hanging chads and boxes of uncounted ballots in their heads.

Two swing state polls, one conducted in late September and another in early October, found 33 percent of voters seriously concerned about electoral shenanigans – not on the part of people ineligible to vote but on the part of those steering campaigns, supplying voting machines, issuing ballots and tallying votes.

But there’s a counter to the compromised confidence: A growing number of citizens are taking an interest in safeguarding voting rights at the polls, promoting transparency in the process and protecting the integrity of the electoral system. Surveys find more people volunteering to serve as election observers, increased interest in the process and a spike in the number of voting rights marches this year, especially in the South.

“Voting must be free, fair and accessible to all, and voters should know their rights,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a national organization at the forefront of fighting for fair and free elections. “It is important to maintain the integrity of our election system, and that means that candidates, parties and political activists should be focused on persuading and turning out voters, not bullying them or trying to manipulate the law to freeze them out of our democracy.”

Suppression

With days left to go before Nov. 6, concerns about voter suppression, intimidation and disenfranchisement existed around the country, but especially in the swing states. 

Intimidating billboards declaring “Voter Fraud Is A Felony!” went up in low-income and minority communities in Milwaukee. 

Those billboards and others like them in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, were funded by Wisconsin venture capitalist Stephen Einhorn and his wife Nancy. The couple has given over $50,000 to Gov. Scott Walker since 2005, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Following protests from community groups condemning them as voter-suppression efforts, Clear Channel Outdoor company took them down. The company also announced it would work with the Milwaukee Election Commission to post digital bulletins, digital posters and transit shelter totems encouraging voters by saying, “Skip the Election Day line – vote early.”

Voters in some Democratic areas in Wisconsin received mailers from the Republican Party with incorrect information about their polling places or the wrong election date.

Controversy also arose over the appearance in Wisconsin of GOP strategist Nathan Sproul’s Issue Advocacy Partners firm. Another Sproul firm is connected to a voter fraud scandal in Florida, as well as an ongoing criminal case against a paid voter registration supervisor accused of destroying forms in Virginia.

In 28 Florida counties in October, voters received bogus letters informing them they might be ineligible to vote, prompting an FBI probe. And in Palm Beach County, some 27,000 absentee ballots couldn’t be digitally scanned because of a design flaw. So election workers were duplicating the markings on bad ballots on new ballots.

This was in addition to the yearlong campaign by Republican Gov. Rick Scott to remove people from registered voter lists, an effort to reduce early voting opportunities, new rules that pushed citizens groups out of registration drives and a scandal over fraudulent voter registration forms in 10 counties that involved a contractor hired by the GOP.

In Ohio – in minority neighborhoods in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland – a right-wing family foundation erected billboards intended to scare off voters with the warning, “Voter Fraud Is A Felony!” Clear Channel, co-owned by the private equity firm co-founded by Mitt Romney, agreed to remove the ads, but civic leaders said some harm was done.

Meanwhile, liberal bloggers were raising questions about whether ballots in at least one county in Ohio would be accurately counted because investors in Hart InterCivic, the company supplying voting machines, have ties to Bain Capital and Tagg Romney.

All this was in addition to a failed attempt to reduce early voting opportunities in a state where thousands of people were left waiting in lines hours after the polls closed in 2004 and where officials this fall sent out notices to some voters with an incorrect election date.

Elsewhere, confusion over voter identification policies continued after a spate of new voter ID laws, driven by another right-wing group, led to showdowns between state governments and the U.S. Justice Department. In Pennsylvania, where a photo ID isn’t needed to vote Nov. 6, the state ran a campaign – posters, mailings and TV ads – saying otherwise.

There were reports of other problems with early balloting to aggravate anxiety.

In Maryland, some absentee ballots were mailed missing the page that included Question 6, the marriage equality question, and voters who received Spanish-language ballots complained that the summary for the marriage question contained an error that could lead people to vote opposite their intention.

In Texas, the state attorney general threatened to arrest observers with an international group invited to monitor the election if they came within 100 feet of polling places.

Watching in Waukesha

Concerns about the next election were being raised as questions about prior elections remain, specifically in Waukesha County, where County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has been challenged by good government groups, urged to resign by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and investigated by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

Nickolaus came to national attention in April 2011 after she failed to include Brookfield results – 14,315 votes – in the totals reported on election night. That contributed to a recount in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between conservative Justice David Prosser and liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. Nickolaus’ discovery was convenient for Prosser, who was declared the winner, costly for taxpayers and highly controversial.

The GAB, after a four-day canvas, stated, “Although there were some anomalies identified, the GAB found no major discrepancies between Waukesha County’s official canvas report and the documentation provided by the municipalities. This does not warrant correction of the canvass absent any post-election proceedings.”

In September, after a more extensive review, the GAB said it found probable cause to believe Nickolaus violated state law requiring clerks to post all returns on election night, but the violation was not willful and did not constitute criminal misconduct.

The GAB chair wrote to Nickolaus: “When one election official fails to act consistent with those responsibilities, steps must be taken to correct the failure in order to prevent it from recurring, and to restore public confidence and trust in the administration of elections.”

Fair election advocates have focused on the clerk again.

In the April presidential primary, because of computer problems, Nickolaus’ office manually entered vote totals by hand, proofed them against machine tapes and posted unofficial results online – at about 2 a.m. the day after the election.

Soon after, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headlined an editorial “Waukesha County clerk needs to step down. Upcoming elections – from the gubernatorial recall to the presidential – are too important to leave in the hands of Kathy Nickolaus.”

The newspaper also reported that Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas said he would call for Nickolaus’ resignation unless she handed off her election duties in the upcoming recalls to her deputy. According to the newspaper and a news release from the GAB in April, Nickolaus agreed to delegate vote-tallying duties to deputy Kelly Yaeger in the upcoming recalls.

But, for the May 8 recall primaries, Nickolaus was in the office on election night and several media outlets reported she appeared to be in charge.

That, and conflicting statements from county officials, led to concerns about who would be in charge of collecting and counting the June 5 gubernatorial recall ballots. On recall day, Kelly Steele of the activist group We Are Wisconsin, said, “Vrakas promised the voters of Wisconsin he’d taken care of his ‘Kathy Nickolaus problem’ so that the stench of incompetence and possible corruption emanating from Waukesha County was a thing of the past. Alarmingly, as we tabulate the most important election in Wisconsin history, Kathy Nickolaus remains firmly planted in the heart of Scott Walker’s base and Dan Vrakas has not only failed to keep his word, he’s now stonewalling questions about who’s actually running the election in Waukesha County.”

Controversy continued through the summer, with Nickolaus, according to watchdog groups such as Liberty Tree’s Wisconsin Wave project, putting up barriers to a hand count of the June 5 ballots, part of a statewide citizen audit effort. In mid-August, she threatened to destroy the ballots.

Vrakas’ office returned press calls regarding Nickolaus’ role on Nov. 6. Nickolaus, in an email, said, “I have no comment. Thank you.”

At the GAB, public information officer Reid Magney stated, “We continue to work with the Waukesha County Clerk’s office. There were no problems in the August partisan primary, and we do not expect any in November.”

He added, “Questions about responsibilities in the Waukesha County Clerk’s office should be directed to that office or the county executive’s office.”

Waukesha County Corporation Counsel Thomas P. Farley said state law provides Nickolaus’ authority and mandates her responsibilities. “Statutorily, she has to do what she has been elected to do,” he said, adding that he was unaware of how her office would run on Nov. 6.

If Nickolaus does run that show, it will be her last. She announced in April she would not seek re-election and on Nov. 6 voters will elect either Republican Kathleen Novack or Democrat Jessie Read, whose campaign slogan is “HINT: Honesty, Integrity, Nonpartisanship, Transparency.”

Protecting the vote

Several groups plan to monitor Wisconsin’s vote.

“We have a major election observer program,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network. “We’ve been recruiting and training volunteers from all over the state. This is the fourth time we’ve done this in a fairly big way. …With this kind of election observer program, Wisconsin is out front.”

For the June recall election, the league fielded 150 observers at 110 polling places. On Nov. 6, it will dispatch at least 300 volunteers trained to observe and primed on state election law. They’ll be looking to see whether the polls operate on schedule, equipment is operational, voting is private, check-in and registration tables are separate and that eligible voters aren’t being turned away due to confusion over the law. 

Observers take any concerns to a chief inspector at the polling place and, if necessary, the league headquarters or attorneys. “We assess the situation,” Kaminski said, noting that observers don’t interact with voters. By state law, observers must stand at least 6-12 feet from any voter casting a ballot.

Common Cause also is watchdogging the election. In addition to fielding poll monitors, the organization has lobbied for the removal of the voter fraud billboards, called for an investigation of alleged intimidation in Florida and campaigned to extend early voting hours in Ohio. 

“The entire voting rights community is mobilized to protect voters’ rights,” Edgar said.

Meanwhile, legal groups, including the ACLU of Wisconsin, are working hotlines on Election Day to help voters with concerns and questions.

After Nov. 6, expect the watchdog work to continue, along with efforts to reform the election system and increase voter participation.

In its September newsletter, the Wisconsin Wave project said, “We will also again be putting out the call for nationwide voter assemblies on Nov. 7 – the day after the election, gatherings that will serve as instant organizing platforms if there is evidence that the fall election was stolen.”

On Election Day

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Election Protection coalition is part of the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline. Volunteers and attorneys answer calls from voters.