Election observers could get far closer to the tables where poll workers gather information from voters on Election Day under a bill introduced by a group of Assembly Republicans late last week, which already had a public hearing on Tuesday. At the campaigns and elections committee hearing, lawmakers also considered GOP-authored legislation that would raise the bar for recalling local officials. Under the election observer bill, chief inspectors and municipal clerks would be required to designate areas for observers at the polls that are within five feet of the tables where voters provide their names and addresses, as well as within five feet of the tables where people can register to vote.
Observers must stay at least 6 to 12 feet away from the tables under the current rules and guidelines set by the state Government Accountability Board. The legislation also says election observers could be allowed to sit at those tables.
“I will contend that an observer is not able to properly view the process standing 12 feet away,” the bill’s lead author, Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Erin, said.
But clerks, voting rights advocates and liberal groups warned that the bill would blur lines between election officials and observers, disrupt elections and unnerve voters.
“Our association asks that this bill not continue and that we are allowed to do our jobs,” said Nancy Zastrow of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association.