Wisconsin

Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.

gab

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


Wisconsin: Elections head: Staff has opinions but don’t make decisions | Associated Press

The state elections board’s employees have personal political views but they don’t make any decisions, the board’s director said Tuesday as he tries to stave off Republican lawmakers’ plans to restructure the agency. Conservatives’ calls to overhaul the Government Accountability Board have grown louder following a newspaper story Thursday detailing a former staff attorney’s emails. The messages offered encouragement to an investigator looking into whether Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups. The GAB consists of six retired judges appointed by the governor and their employees. Read More

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Wisconsin: Audit finds no major problems with Wisconsin elections board | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

An audit released Thursday looking into how Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections and ethics board handles complaints found no major problems, leading the panel’s director to say it should put to rest concerns about its operations even as Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker plan major overhauls. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau report was limited to previously confidential records related to nearly 1,900 complaints filed with the Government Accountability Board between 2010 and 2013. The audit had two recommendations: that the board consistently resolve complaints in a timely manner and that staff consistently provide the board with the names of three people who can be hired to work as special investigators. Board director Kevin Kennedy, under fire by Republican lawmakers, said the recommendations were minor and consistent with the agency’s existing practices. Read More

Wisconsin: State DOJ seeks dismissal of gerrymandering lawsuit | Wisconsin State Journal

The state Department of Justice asked Tuesday that a lawsuit filed last month over the 2011 state legislative district map be dismissed because the lawsuit presents a political question that the court cannot answer. The lawsuit was filed by a group of 12 Democrats from across Wisconsin, led by retired UW-Madison Law School professor William Whitford, and asks that the map’s boundaries be thrown out as “one of the worst gerrymanders in modern American history.”  Read More

Wisconsin: As John Doe probe is halted, legal maneuvering continues | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The investigation into conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign may be halted, but the legal machinations surrounding it appear far from over. In the latest development, attorneys who beat back the probe are seeking to have a third party oversee prosecutors as they return evidence they gathered during the investigation. Their request to the state Supreme Court would also affect the treatment of material gathered in an earlier investigation that resulted in six convictions, according to the judge who oversaw that first investigation. Details are sketchy because the high court has sealed the filings until it determines whether they can be released. But the flurry of court activity shows that a fight over the investigation will continue as Walker pursues the Republican nomination for president. Read More

Wisconsin: Scott Walker, GOP lawmakers want to change elections board by 2016 | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature plan to restructure the agency that runs elections by the fall of 2016, when Walker hopes to top the ballot as a candidate for president. GOP lawmakers also plan to rewrite campaign finance laws for state candidates to put them in line with recent court decisions. As part of that effort, they are considering at least doubling the amount of money donors can give candidates, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said. Also on the docket this fall is putting limits on the ability of district attorneys to conduct John Doe probes that allow them to compel people to turn over documents and give testimony. The law also gives them the power to bar targets and witnesses from telling anyone but their attorneys about such investigations. The moves come in response to a John Doe probe into whether Walker’s campaign illegally worked with conservative groups. The state Supreme Court last month ruled campaigns can work closely with issue groups, declared the investigation over and ordered prosecutors to destroy evidence they have gathered. Read More

Wisconsin: Status quo likely won’t last at Government Accountability Board, putting elections, ethics oversight in flux | Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board was created in the wake of scandal, meant to be an independent overseer of elected officials and those who influence them. Eight years later — after playing controversial roles in the 2012 recall elections and an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign — the board has made enemies of many of the elected officials it was founded to regulate. Now, the board is on course for a sweeping overhaul — or perhaps for extinction. Some fear the coming changes could leave Wisconsin with weakened oversight of those in power at the Capitol. They also could mean the state will have untested elections oversight in 2016, the first presidential election year in which a photo ID requirement for voting is expected to be in place. But critics of the GAB say change is needed because its purported impartiality is a farce. Gov. Scott Walker said last month that the board should be replaced. Walker was speaking just after the state Supreme Court halted an investigation into coordination between Walker’s campaign and conservative groups — an investigation in which the GAB played a key role. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has signaled the Assembly will take up a bill this fall to overhaul or replace the board, which oversees elections, campaign finance, lobbying and ethics. Read More

Wisconsin: Kevin Kennedy defends GAB against foes who ‘want to have more control’ | The Cap Times

Gov. Scott Walker has called for the dissolution of Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections and campaign finance agency, but the Government Accountability Board’s director said that’s a “short-sighted” opinion. Kevin Kennedy also said in an interview on WKOW-TV’s “Capitol City Sunday” that recent suggestions that his agency teamed with the Internal Revenue Service to investigate conservative groups were “absolutely ridiculous.” The GAB has been the target of scorn from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who specifically has mentioned ousting Kennedy as a goal. Vos and other Republicans have been critical of the GAB’s role in the John Doe investigations into alleged campaign finance coordination between Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and an outside advocacy group. Read More

Wisconsin: Scott Walker Proposes Shutting Wisconsin Ethics Board | The New York Times

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said on Monday that he wanted to eliminate the state’s Government Accountability Board, a nonpartisan agency that oversees elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying. In 2012, the board voted unanimously to approve an election to recall Mr. Walker, the first governor in the state’s history to face such a challenge, and it later authorized an investigation into allegations of violations by the governor’s campaign in that election. Mr. Walker would replace the board with “something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin,” he told reporters after a bill-signing ceremony. Read More

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Wisconsin: GOP hopeful Scott Walker calls for dismantling of state elections board | Chicago Tribune

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday called for the dismantling of an independent state agency that oversees elections and that authorized an investigation into his 2012 recall campaign. Walker, who launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination last week, told reporters following a bill signing ceremony in Oshkosh that he wanted to scrap the Government Accountability Board and replace it with “something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin.” Walker also called for an investigation into the board’s activities. He did not say who should lead the investigation. Walker’s comments come just four days after the state Supreme Court halted a board-approved investigation into whether conservative groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s 2012 recall campaign, saying the groups broke no laws. Republican state lawmakers have been talking for months about reshaping the board, and the Supreme Court’s ruling has only bolstered the calls for change. Read More