Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: GOP bills would hike contribution limits, split Government Accountability Board into two agencies | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Assembly Republicans unveiled bills Wednesday to double political contribution limits, rewrite campaign financing rules and split the state’s elections and ethics board into two agencies and fill them with partisan appointees. One of the two bills would dissolve the state Government Accountability Board, which consists of six former judges who are responsible for running elections and overseeing the state’s laws on ethics, campaign finance and lobbying. It would create two new agencies — the Elections Commission and Ethics Commission — to oversee those duties. The six-member commissions are to be split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) acknowledged an error in the way the legislation was written that would have allowed one party to control the commissions and said that would be promptly fixed. Daniel Tokaji, a professor at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University who specializes in election law, called the accountability board a model for the nation and said it was ridiculous to turn elections over to partisans. He noted the Federal Election Commission routinely deadlocks because it is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. “Only a lunatic or a glutton for gridlock would want to copy the FEC,” Tokaji said. “I think what they want is a commission that will routinely gridlock and get nothing done.” Read More

Wisconsin: Republicans propose splitting Government Accountability Board into elections, ethics commissions | Wisconsin State Journal

Calling Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board a “failed experiment,” Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday proposed splitting it into two commissions guided by partisans. They also called for a sweeping revision of state campaign finance laws, one of the board’s areas of oversight. The announcements signal an ambitious effort by GOP lawmakers to change how Wisconsin’s elections — and elected officials — are overseen. Supporters said the GAB has overstepped its authority, and the new boards would be more publicly accountable. But critics of the bill said it would return Wisconsin to the model that predated the GAB, in which election and ethics laws proved difficult to enforce under partisan oversight. Read More

Wisconsin: Opponents ask court to relax Wisconsin voter ID requirements | Associated Press

Opponents of Wisconsin’s voter identification law argued in federal court Monday that the legislation is improperly restrictive and should be expanded to allow people to use more forms of ID. The case represents the latest push from the American Civil Liberties Union against a law that has been the focus of a string of legal battles since it was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker four years ago. Supporters of the legislation say its requirements help guard against election fraud, but opponents say its true intent is to make voting tougher for older, poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats and are less likely to have the mandated forms of identification. Those include a Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card, a U.S. passport, military ID card, college IDs meeting certain requirements, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a Wisconsin-based American Indian tribe. Read More

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board head asks lawmakers to delay overhaul of elections agency | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The head of the state’s elections board has urged legislative leaders to slow down their plans to overhaul the agency, but top GOP lawmakers say they will unveil their restructuring plans next week. Gerald Nichol, chairman of the Government Accountability Board, in a letter to lawmakers raised concerns about restructuring the board 13 months before the high-turnout presidential election. His request to slow down fell on deaf ears. On Wednesday, aides to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said they reached a deal on the matter. They declined to provide details, saying they would make their plans public next week. The leaders discussed the plan briefly with GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email Walker “looks forward to working with them to find a replacement that is fair, transparent, and accountable to Wisconsinites.” Read More

Wisconsin: Some recoil at using FEC as model for elections overhaul in Wisconsin | Wisconsin State Journal

Some Assembly Republicans are looking to Washington, D.C., for inspiration to overhaul Wisconsin’s elections and ethics agency, the Government Accountability Board. But critics say the model those lawmakers cite, the Federal Election Commission, is not one of effective campaign oversight. Rather, they say, it’s one of gridlock and dysfunction. “It’s like setting up a disaster-relief agency and saying you’re going to use the FEMA handling of Hurricane Katrina as your model,” said Larry Noble, former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission. Noble now is senior counsel at a nonpartisan advocacy group, the Campaign Legal Center. Read More


Wisconsin: Targeting of Government Accountability Board ‘all about raw political power,’ Jay Heck says | The Capital Times

The way Common Cause in Wisconsin executive director Jay Heck sees it, the state’s Government Accountability Board is being punished for doing what it’s supposed to do. Republicans, including Gov. Scott Walker, have called for the dissolution of Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections and campaign finance agency, whose board voted in 2013 to authorize an investigation than ran alongside a John Doe probe into alleged campaign finance coordination between Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and an outside advocacy group. In an interview on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that aired Sunday, Heck said claims that the GAB hasn’t done its job have proven to be unfounded through audits. Read More

Wisconsin: Democrats angle for nonpartisan redistricting reform | The Capital Times

Democratic lawmakers are once again seeking to enact nonpartisan redistricting reform in Wisconsin, with legislation introduced Tuesday. State government in Wisconsin has been under one-party Republican rule since 2011. Democrats tried and failed to pass similar legislation in 2012. Asked why Democrats didn’t implement these reforms when they last held a majority in 2009 and 2010, Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said, “Something should have been done,” adding that he was supportive of it at the time. “That was a mistake, and that’s a pox on our party and a pox on any party that doesn’t do the right thing,” Hansen said. “But it does not excuse the opportunity we have now.”  Read More

Wisconsin: Democrats renew push for redistricting reform | Wisconsin Radio Network

Democratic state lawmakers are once again calling for a change in how Wisconsin does legislative redistricting every ten years. Currently, data from the decennial U.S. Census is used by the majority party in each chamber to redraw the district lines across the state. Democrats argue the issues with the process came to a head in 2011 when, for the first time in decades, Republicans were in complete control of Wisconsin government. During a Capitol press conference Tuesday to unveil the bill, state Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) said a recent study of that process resulted in Wisconsin being called “the most gerrymandered state in the country.” Democrats are reintroducing a bill that would change the way the state draws district lines every decade. Under the proposal, which is similar to legislation introduced last session, the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau would draw new legislative and congressional district maps, aided by a Redistricting Advisory Commission. Read More


Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board moves toward use of electronic pollbooks | Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board has edged closer to embracing electronic pollbooks, voting Tuesday to develop ground rules for their use. The board also voted to ask state lawmakers to decide when Wisconsin lobbyists should be permitted to donate to presidential candidates, including Gov. Scott Walker. The board — made up of six former judges tasked with overseeing the state’s campaign finance, elections, ethics, and lobbying laws — voted 4-2 for the electronic pollbook motion at its regular meeting. The motion authorizes board staff to develop standards and procedures for the use of e-pollbooks, which are laptops or tablets that replace paper pollbooks. Read More