The fight over restricting early voting in Wisconsin returned to federal court Monday, three days after Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a new limit passed during a lame-duck legislative session. A coalition of liberal groups, with the support of former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked a federal judge to block implementation of the early voting restrictions. The same judge in 2016 struck down a similar two-week early voting limitation as unconstitutional. Attorneys for the groups argued that Republicans called the lame-duck session “as part of a partisan attempt to retain and regain power” and the early voting limitation was “in direct violation” of the court’s 2016 order.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin: ‘A reason to stand up’: Wisconsin activists fight threat to African American vote | The Guardian
The Milwaukee pastor Greg Lewis spent weeks before the November midterms working to get out the vote. Through the Souls to the Polls program, Lewis and other Milwaukee church officials educated members of the community about their voting rights, ensured they were registered and had proper documentation, and got them to polling places to cast their votes – sometimes encouraging them directly from the pews to the polls. It was exhausting work, Lewis said, but necessary to make sure members of the city’s “overlooked” and “underserved” African American community were able to make their voices heard. “People are tired of being abused and misused, and others are tired of seeing those people abused and misused,” said Lewis, a minister at St Gabriel’s Church of God in Christ on the city’s north side. “And we really came together.”
Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans are claiming lame-duck legislation would make early voting uniform across the state — a contention that was rejected by a federal judge two years ago. That same judge is expected to weigh in on the matter again if Walker signs the early voting restrictions in the coming weeks. Republican lawmakers included the early-voting limits in lame-duck legislation they sent to Walker last week that would also curb the powers of Walker’s Democratic successor, Tony Evers, and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. Wisconsin had a record round of early voting for a midterm election last month, helping Democrats win every statewide office. The legislation would limit early voting to a maximum of two weeks.
Wisconsin Democrats scored a huge win when Tony Evers captured the governor’s office last month. But an even bigger fight is looming as Republican lawmakers prepare to redraw legislative boundaries, stirring fears among Democrats that their rivals could take unprecedented steps to remove Evers from the process. State law requires legislators to redraw the boundaries every 10 years to reflect population changes. It’s a high-stakes task since the party in control can craft maps that consolidate their power and lock in their majority for years. The last time lawmakers drew new boundaries was in 2011, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Assembly and governor’s office. A federal judicial panel invalidated the Assembly districts as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that in June and sent the case back to the lower court to establish whether there was harm to particular voters. A new trial is set for April.
More communities are taking part in audits of voting equipment in Wisconsin this year. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is requiring audits of voting equipment in 5 percent of the state’s wards and at least one in every county. Commission spokesman Reid Magney said audits were expanded due to concerns over election security. “There are a number of national groups that have determined post-election audits are a best practice, that states should be verifying the results of elections before they’re certified,” said Magney. “Our commission has taken that to heart and used an existing audit that we already do to start meeting that best practice.” For the first time this year, the audits must be completed before the state certifies election results next month.
Clerks across our state are in the middle of a renewed effort to ensure Wisconsin’s elections are accurate and secure. For the first time this year, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is asking more clerks — at least one in every county — to hand count a select amount of ballots and compare results to what machines counted. While there’s not been an issue with inaccuracy, they hope this lets voters see that for themselves. In the Green Bay City Clerk’s office, the audit begins at promptly 9:00 a.m. Staff take out ballots cast in two east-side wards and hand count the results — twice. They’re then compared to the results machines tabulated on election night.
Election officials have ordered hand counts of paper ballots from 5 percent of the state’s voting machines in an effort to audit the accuracy of Election Day results. Currently, election officials only check to verify that the number of paper ballots cast matches the number counted by the machines. But, in 2006, the state adopted a law requiring officials to ascertain whether the actual candidates selected on paper ballots corresponds with the machine count of votes for those candidates. In the past, the state has ignored that law. But questions raised by Russian interference in the 2016 elections prompted the Wisconsin Election Commission to take a step toward compliance with the law, said Karen McKim, the coordinator of Wisconsin Election Integrity, a bipartisan nonprofit group that advocates for fair elections. She praised the election commission for taking the step.
Wisconsin: Elections Commission shuts down dormant file sharing service after reporter inquiry | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
State elections officials eliminated an unused, password-protected file sharing service to further protect the state’s election system from hackers. The move came after a reporter with the nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica inquired about whether the service was susceptible to hacking, according to Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney. The organization’s scrutiny of the security of Wisconsin’s election system comes days before Tuesday’s midterm elections and amid concerns that the Russian-based interference in the 2016 general election could return this year. In the 2016 election, Russians attempted to hack elections systems in Wisconsin and 20 other states ahead of the presidential election.
At the founding of the United States, the right to vote belonged to a privileged few. White, male, property owners were the only people directly steering the fate of this nation. It took significant struggles to change that. The Civil War, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement were just pieces of the complex web of events that gave most adult U.S. citizens the right to vote. But progress isn’t always linear. There have been significant efforts to suppress the voting population over the last two decades. Gerrymandering, restrictive voter ID laws, and purged voter rolls have all led to the disenfranchisement of many citizens. Carol Anderson is the author of, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy chronicles the history of voter suppression in the U.S. and the ways that modern politicians are trying to suppress the vote in states throughout the country. Wisconsin plays a starring role in the book. “There are a couple of ground zeros for this and Wisconsin, unfortunately, is one of them,” says Anderson.
Wisconsin officials were praised Friday by election-security advocates for expanding the state’s use of post-election audits. The Wisconsin Elections Commission announced that it voted unanimously Tuesday to require audits in 5 percent of precincts throughout the state after every vote, beginning with the Nov. 6 general election. The decision is evidence that the clock has not run out yet on states seeking to improve their ballot-security procedures before Election Day, said representatives of Verified Voting, which advocates for paper-based voting systems and Public Citizen, a consumers’ rights group. Under Wisconsin’s new system, election officials will randomly select at least 183, or 5 percent, of the state’s 3,660 precincts to review voting equipment. The audit sample will include at least one precinct from each of the state’s 72 counties, but no more than two precincts from any single municipality.