Republicans in the state Senate are looking to overhaul numerous election laws this fall, including one measure that would allow poll workers to serve in communities other than where they live. Critics contended at a public hearing Wednesday that the change could lead to out-of-town partisans replacing poll workers who have long worked on election day in the community where they live. Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the author of the bills, said she does not intend to replace local poll workers with people from other communities and would consider changes to her proposals. Lazich is the chairwoman of the Senate Elections and Urban Affairs Committee, and she presided over a hearing on her bills Wednesday. Other bills she drafted would give governors more leeway in whom they appoint to the state’s elections and ethics board; require poll workers to record what type of document voters show to prove residency; and change how ballot containers are sealed. Under current law, poll workers generally must come from the municipality in which they work, and often must live in the voting ward.
Also under current law, nominees by the major political parties are to be given preference to serve as poll workers.
One of Lazich’s bills would require that tasks in polling places that require two or more poll workers be performed by people of differing parties, if the poll workers were nominated by the parties.
Critics Wednesday raised concerns about making changes to both the residency of poll workers and the partisan ties of poll workers.
Kevin Kennedy, director of the state’s elections agency, said local clerks were concerned the two bills could lead to local workers being replaced by out-of-towners who were nominated by the parties.