Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been ruffling feathers lately by suggesting there could be massive fraud at the polls on Nov. 8. Local elections officials are among the many refuting Trump’s allegations and insist every voters’ ballot will count. … In theory, someone could try to tamper with elections well in advance of Election Day. They could try to change the state’s list of registered voters. Reid Magney of Wisconsin’s elections commission says people have called his office with questions. “Because in the news it’s been reported that elections databases in Arizona and Illinois were entered by hackers. Nothing like that has happened in Wisconsin,” he says. Magney says he’s confident the state’s voter registration database will remain secure. “We actually upgraded our system to the absolute latest technology. We’re also working with the Department of Homeland Security to conduct regular scans to make sure there have been no intrusions,” he says.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the state to provide more information to the public about how they could easily get voting credentials even if they don’t have birth certificates, but declined to suspend the voter ID law. U.S. District Judge James Peterson said his order would “patch up” the system used to provide voting credentials to people with the most difficulty getting IDs, but acknowledged it would be an imperfect, temporary solution. He said the state would have to implement broader changes to that system later, but there is not enough time to do that before the Nov. 8 election. Under the 2011 voter ID law, people can get free IDs for voting, but a small group of people face challenges in getting them because they don’t have birth certificates or have problems with their documentation.
The state of Wisconsin must immediately provide more information to help people seeking state-issued voting credentials navigate the complex process, a federal judge ordered Thursday. U.S. District Judge James Peterson declined to suspend the state’s voter ID law before the November election, arguing he doesn’t have the authority to issue a “brand new injunction” and that it might be “unwise” to make sweeping changes less than a month from Election Day. Instead, the judge opted to focus on providing a “targeted remedy” to issues with the ID petition process, or IDPP, which is designed to help people who don’t have the proper documentation obtain IDs. “What we are doing here is to patch it up, get it in good enough shape to get us through the November election,” Peterson said, adding that a previous court order he issued in July mandates a fundamental reform of the process after the election.
Ripping the Division of Motor Vehicles for giving out inaccurate information, a federal judge said Wednesday he would order Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to make changes to how it treats people who seek voting credentials but was unlikely to suspend the voter ID law. “I think the training that was provided to the DMV counter service was manifestly inadequate,” U.S. District Judge James Peterson said during a daylong hearing. “The DMV has a lot of competencies, but one of them is not communicating to voters what they need to get an ID. “I don’t know why we’re here a month before the election.” Peterson was reacting, in part, to recently released audio recordings of DMV workers supplying people with inaccurate voter ID information.
A federal judge considering a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law ripped state officials Wednesday over inadequate training for Division of Motor Vehicles workers after some employees recently gave prospective voters erroneous information about obtaining alternative credentials to cast a ballot. Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Institute asked U.S. District Judge James Peterson to block the entire law, citing a flurry of reported problems at DMV field offices. Despite his criticisms of the credential program, Peterson said at the conclusion of a hearing that he was reluctant to block the mandate. A federal appellate court has already found the law constitutional, leaving him uncertain whether he even has authority over the law, the judge said. He added that he wants to respect legislators’ decision to adopt the requirement to protect election integrity.
As state attorneys try to persuade a judge to keep the voter ID law intact, Democrats on the Elections Commission are looking for new lawyers. U.S. District Judge James Peterson in July struck down limits on early voting and ordered the state to reform its system for making sure people have voting credentials under the voter ID law. In recent weeks, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others have reported on Division of Motor Vehicles workers giving people inaccurate and incomplete information about their ability to get voting credentials. That prompted those suing the state to make a renewed push to overturn the voter ID law. Peterson has ordered a hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday. Now, two of the Democratic members of the Elections Commission are seeking a new lawyer to represent them because they say GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office would not file a report with the court on their behalf.
Milwaukee might be just one of the Wisconsin communities that has to throw out bunches of absentee ballots done by mail. A new state law requires the witnesses to include their full address, but some have not. Several parties will ask the state election commission later this week to relax the rule. Governor Walker signed the bill into law this past spring. It requires the person who witnesses someone voting absentee, to provide their address, along with their signature. Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas says the agency must enforce the law. “Under the previous statute, individuals who cast an absentee ballot by mail were required to have a witness sign the envelope and list their address as well but, there was never a consequence if the witnesses address was not included on the envelope. Municipal clerks were always instructed to still have those ballots counted, even if the witness address was missing or was not complete,” he says. But now, Haas says, elections officials are supposed to toss ballots that don’t contain the witness’s full address.
Republican and Democratic politicians across the country are deeply divided over restoring the right to vote to felons, a political fracture that affects millions of convicted criminals. In Iowa and Kentucky, Democratic governors issued executive orders to restore voting rights to many felons — only to have them rescinded by Republican governors who succeeded them. Democratic legislators in 29 states proposed more than 270 bills over the past six years that would have made it easier for some felons to vote but very few passed, especially in legislatures controlled by Republicans, News21 found in an analysis of state legislative measures nationwide. Debate and decisions about restoring voting rights to felons often follow partisan lines because felons, particularly African-Americans, are viewed as more likely to vote Democratic than Republican, voting rights experts told News21. Nationwide, 1 in 13 black voters is disenfranchised because of a felony conviction as opposed to 1 in 56 non-black voters, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on criminal justice sentencing policies and racial disparities.
In response to reports of the Division of Motor Vehicles giving wrong voter ID information, the state retrained its workers and overhauled how it handles cases when people don’t have birth certificates, state lawyers told a judge Friday. The attorneys acknowledged workers sometimes gave inaccurate information but downplayed the significance of those incidents. They wrote that undercover state troopers this week made 31 visits to DMV stations posing as people seeking voter IDs and every time received correct information. “Through a swift and comprehensive investigation, DMV identified how best to address these communication concerns, and the agency has now implemented top-to-bottom corrective measures,” Assistant Attorney General Gabe Johnson-Karp wrote. U.S. District Judge James Peterson told the DMV to file the report after reading reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Nation about Zack Moore, who was given wrong information by three DMV employees when he tried to get an ID without a birth certificate.
Thousands of mailed absentee ballots could be thrown out because witnesses for the voters did not provide their full addresses. With only a fraction of absentee ballots mailed in, the number of ballots at risk of being tossed is now in the hundreds and could easily grow to thousands in the state’s largest city alone, said Neil Albrecht, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission. In most cases where ballots are at risk, the error is a minor one — the witness provided a street address but not the name of a municipality. Often, the voter and witness live at the same address, but clerks aren’t allowed to fill in the missing information unless they track down the voter and get his or her permission. “What distresses me the most about this is it’s mostly seniors,” Albrecht said. “I think it’s absurd that your ballot might not be counted because someone in your household didn’t record their municipality.”