Kevin Kennedy’s predecessor was removed as Wisconsin’s top elections official after a few “management issues.” Kennedy recalled that included mistakes in tallying results from the September 1982 primary and a mix-up with the wording for a ballot referendum that was supposed to gauge support on a nuclear weapons freeze. But the language sent to local clerks left the word “weapons” out of the question. So Kennedy has taken the approach that he’s auditioning each day to keep his post as Government Accountability Board director and general counsel. ”I don’t stand for election every four years. I get reviewed every day by a citizen board,” Kennedy said in a WisPolitics.com interview. “As I tell people it takes four votes, not a million votes, to get rid of me.” Kennedy will celebrate 35 years with Wisconsin’s elections agency this week, first as legal counsel and then executive director of the old Elections Board before heading up the GAB, which was created in 2007 and began its work in place of the old Elections and Ethics boards in 2008.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, is unsure how her organization will respond to Gov. Scott Walker’s recent signing of a bill to restrict early voting throughout the state. Walker issued a partial veto that killed a provision that would have barred municipalities from offering more than 45 hours of weekday in-person absentee voting. Nevertheless, the bill as signed still bars municipalities from offering early voting on weekends in the weeks preceding an election and restricts early voting to the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Walker’s veto amounted to a minimal improvement, says Kaminski. “It was a very, very small concession,” she says.
Add a Wisconsin mayor to the list of voters who violated the state’s election law prohibiting sharing pictures of completed ballots. Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink, 26, faces a possible felony after posting online a picture of his ballot in the primary for his re-election. A City Council candidate saw the post and filed a complaint with the district attorney, who was debating moving forward with charges as of Thursday. Despite warnings from the Government Accountability Board — which governs elections in Wisconsin — the issue has come up in multiple elections in the last few years as voters photograph their ballots and share them on social media. “I understand the law’s intent is to protect the integrity of the voting process,” Vruwink wrote in a text message. “This post was in no way election fraud.”
Wisconsin: Scott Walker signs early-voting bill; partial veto extends voting hours | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Acting out of the public eye on controversial measures, Gov. Scott Walker signed asbestos liability legislation Thursday opposed by a number of veterans groups and used a partial veto to loosen new restrictions on early voting opposed by Democrats. Wielding his pen privately on a stack of 31 bills, Walker approved a number of elections bills Thursday, including the absentee voting measure and another one to give lobbyists more time to give campaign donations to state officials. In the early-voting measure, Walker used his partial veto powers — the most powerful in the nation — to nix language restricting early voting hours in Milwaukee and other cities to 45 hours a week while leaving in place a provision to prohibit early voting on weekends.
The state Senate passed a bill Friday limiting voting times to submit absentee ballots. Under current law, one can apply to a municipal clerk in person to vote using an absentee ballot. The ballot can be submitted between the third Monday before the election and the last Friday before the election by 5 p.m. In-person applications for absentee ballots would only be received Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. under Senate Bill 324, introduced by Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend. Both Democrats and Republicans criticized the bill and urged Gov. Scott Walker to veto it.
Voting on the weekend could be a thing of the past in Wisconsin. The state Assembly will vote on a bill Thursday that would limit early voting hours to weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The measure would also require the state to pay half the expenses for small communities offering early voting. The state Senate passed the bill last week 17-16. All Democrats voted against it. State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, wrote the bill.
Wisconsin state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, will not ride off quietly into the sunset. In an appearance on the Devil’s Advocate radio show (The Mic/92.1 FM) last week, Schultz told hosts Mike Crute and Dominic Salvia that his party’s support for a series of election law changes was indefensible. “I am not willing to defend them anymore,” he explained when Salvia asked why Republicans sought to limit the number of voting hours a municipality could offer. “I’m just not and I’m embarrassed by this.” Since announcing his retirement in the face of a tough primary challenge from conservative state Rep. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, the Republican iconoclast has become more strident in criticizing the party in which he has made a political career. Schultz has served as a legislator from southwestern Wisconsin since 1983, including two stints as Senate majority leader in 2003 and 2005. Last week, Schultz argued that there were no legitimate justifications for some of the election reforms pushed by Republicans. “It’s all predicated on some belief there is a massive fraud or irregularities, something my colleagues have been hot on the trail for three years and have failed miserably at demonstrating,” he said.
The Wisconsin state Senate’s Republican leadership favors a special session to address voter ID as opposed to taking up legislation passed by the Assembly in November in the remaining weeks of the 2013-14 legislative session. Myranda Tanck, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Senate Republicans would prefer to see how the state Supreme Court rules on the voter ID bill that Gov. Scott Walker signed three years ago. That law has since been struck down by two Dane County Circuit Court judges.
Wisconsin: In narrow vote, Senate backs ending early voting on weekends | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
After being blocked by Democrats a day earlier, Republican state senators narrowly approved bills Wednesday to end weekend voting before elections, allow lobbyists to make political donations earlier in the political season and curb lawsuits by those exposed to asbestos. Under one bill, approved by a one-vote margin, early voting in clerks’ offices could occur only on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Clerks would not be able to hold early voting during all of that period, however, because they would be limited to allowing a total of 45 hours of early voting a week. Democrats told Republicans they saw the move as an effort to suppress voting by their supporters. ”I feel like I’m in 1906, fighting the fights that people who came long before me had to fight,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who is African-American. “I would argue it screams of backward-thinking mentality, all the way back to Jim Crow, and you should be ashamed.”
Gov. Scott Walker is putting the entire weight of the governorship behind Voter ID. Walker told reporters Tuesday that he was willing to call a special session of the Legislature this summer in order to pass a new bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Although Walker signed such a bill into law in 2011, it was quickly ruled unconstitutional by two Dane County judges and is now being considered by the state Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver a ruling in the coming months. If the high court upholds the lower court rulings, finding that the bill cannot be implemented as written, Walker suggested that the Legislature could pass a new bill that would address any objections from the judiciary while still preserving an ID requirement.