Senate Republicans moved three election-related bills through committee last week, removing a controversial provision from one and taking no action on a fourth bill that was criticized by election watchdog groups. The caucus is also balking at other controversial election reforms such as doubling campaign contribution limits, an Assembly-approved bill requiring voters to present photo identification and a constitutional amendment to change the recall process. Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, also added an election reform idea to the mix: ending same-day voter registration; however, he immediately acknowledged the bill had no chance of passing this session. Of 15 election-related bills still under consideration, eight have Democratic support, while the prospects for at least four remain up in the air, said Dan Romportl, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
Political robocalls could be added to Wisconsin’s do-not-call list and become illegal before the Wisconsin governor’s race if a bipartisan bill makes it through the Wisconsin Legislature. Similar proposals in the past never made it into law, partly because of opposition from special interest groups that use the automated robocalls. But authors of Senate Bill 97 say it has better odds than any bill in the past because it’s extremely popular with increasingly frustrated consumers and because it has 30 co-sponsors — more than any previous bill. ”I think it still has some obstacles to clear, but it’s closer to passing now than it has been at any point in the past,” said Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere), one of the bill’s authors. ”A large part is, with every election season, you see a higher number of calls. Technology has made it easier and cheaper to make these calls. It’s something, if we don’t get it passed, I think we’re going to continue to hear from constituents.”
Racine County’s recent election history includes multiple tight races that resulted in recounts. The last recount was in the 2012 state Senate recall race, in which John Lehman defeated Van Wanggaard by 819 votes. The recount — the third of three recounts between 2011 and 2012 — cost Racine County taxpayers about $5,400. A proposed state law change would shift more of the cost to the candidates. Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen and the county’s Government Services Committee favor the change, saying it would close the gap between the fees charged to candidates and the county’s actual costs.
Wisconsin: State Supreme Court hears arguments on voter identification law; no timeline on ruling | Star Tribune
A member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority said Tuesday she’s troubled by the state’s voter photo ID requirements, saying it’s not fair that people who lack identification may have to pay for supporting documents to obtain it. The League of Women Voters and the NAACP’s Milwaukee branch have filed separate lawsuits challenging the Republican-authored voter ID mandate. Both cases have wound their way to the Supreme Court; the justices spent more than three hours listening to oral arguments in a packed hearing room Tuesday. The lawsuits face an uphill fight given the court’s ideological makeup. Surprisingly, though, Justice Patience Roggensack said the provisions were troubling because people who lack acceptable IDs for voting would have to pay for copies of supporting documents, such as birth certificates, to get them. ”It’s still a payment to the state to be able to vote,” Roggensack said. “That bothers me.”
A Wisconsin law requiring voters to show identification at the polls went before the state’s highest court Tuesday. The Wisconsin Supreme Court listened to arguments for more than three hours in front of a packed courtroom. Attorneys on both sides of the law faced questions from the court’s justices. Justice Pat Roggensack told the state’s attorney she’s concerned some people have to pay $20 for a birth certificate, which they need to get an ID. “It’s still a payment to the state to be able to vote. That bothers me, can you address that?” asked Roggensack. “Since the voter ID law was in place, or was going to be in place, there were some places in Wisconsin that offered free birth certificates,” responded Clayton Kawski, an assistant Attorney General for Wisconsin. The law was enacted in 2011. It was in effect for a primary election in February 2012, but it was blocked soon after by a court order. It hasn’t been in place since.
Oral arguments in two cases challenging the state’s voter photo identification (ID) law are scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 25. In January, the court asked the parties to advise the court in writing, if they believed arguments in the two cases should be consolidated. The responses from the two parties indicated they did not wish the cases to be consolidated. The two cases are: No. 2012AP584-AC – League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Scott Walker L.C.#2011CV4669/ and No. 2012AP1652 – Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Scott Walker L.C.#2011CV5492. Both the League of Women Voters and the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP have challenged Wisconsin’s voter photo ID law. In both cases, Dane County judges struck down the law.
A state law that requires voters to show a state-issued photo ID at the polls has been used only once since Governor Scott Walker signed it in 2011. Now known as Act 23, the Republican-backed law has seen its fair share of criticism. Including arguments that the law alienates minorities and the poor. Federal and state lawsuits have put its use on hold. Republican State Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, stands behind the law as a way of combating voter fraud. “The election that it was in place here, for Wisconsin, the training went well, everything worked well for that election,” said Jacque. Critics say the law forces those without state-issued photo IDs to get one from the DMV – albeit for free.
A secret court ruling in the “John Doe” probe into campaign finance violations during Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections could have implications well beyond the investigation – if news reports from anonymous sources are accurate. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal editorial board reported that Wisconsin Judge Gregory Peterson had quashed subpoenas issued to Wisconsin Club for Growth and Citizens for a Strong America in the closed-door John Doe criminal investigation (which operates like a grand jury except in front of a judge), on grounds that it was not illegal for these supposedly independent groups to coordinate with the Walker campaign — since their ads supporting Walker’s reelection did not expressly tell viewers to “vote for” Walker or “vote against” his opponent. Wisconsin Club for Growth spent at least $9.1 million on these “issue ads” supporting Walker and legislative Republicans during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections, and in turn shuffled millions more to Citizens for a Strong America, which funnelled the money to other groups that spent on election “issue ads.”
A group of municipal officials from Milwaukee County tiptoed Monday into the issue of consolidating the purchase and programming of voting machines. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council will name a work group to study the idea, which came out as the top shared-service idea in a survey of 14 municipal officials done by the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum. Interest in the idea was prompted in part by an unsuccessful attempt last fall by County Supervisor John Weishan Jr. to have the county finance the cost of buying 375 voting machines to supply the City of Milwaukee and every other municipality. The idea failed to win County Board approval as an amendment to the county’s 2014 budget on a 9-9 tie vote.
The federal judge deciding the legality of Wisconsin’s voter ID law received an early Christmas present last week in some reading for over the holidays: more than 200 pages of post-trial briefs. Don’t blame the parties. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, who presided over eight days of testimony in November, invited the briefs and set the pre-holidays deadline. He hasn’t indicated when he will rule. Despite their length, the briefs are meant to sharpen the points both sides tried to make at trial. The plaintiffs, individual voters and groups representing minorities, contend Act 23 violates the federal Voting Rights Act because it has a disproportionate negative impact on members of those groups, regardless of the law’s intent. The state contends the law furthers a legitimate interest in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and stopping fraud, and that it allows enough alternative forms of photo ID to accommodate anyone who truly wants to vote.