Wisconsin town under federal review after eliminating voting machines | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The decision by a small board in the Town of Thornapple, Wisconsin, to eliminate electronic voting machines has drawn scrutiny from federal investigators, prompting questions about accessibility for voters with disabilities. The move to rely solely on hand-counted paper ballots, made in June 2023, has raised concerns about potential violations of federal laws mandating accessible voting options. The decision, which has roots in former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election, has led to a federal investigation and legal challenges. Despite assertions from town officials that assistance is available for voters with disabilities, advocacy groups argue that the removal of electronic machines restricts the ability of some voters to cast their ballots independently and privately. Read Article

Wisconsin Supreme Court to revisit ruling that banned most ballot drop boxes | Adam Edelman/NBC

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Monday in a pivotal case that will determine the future of absentee ballot drop boxes in the battleground state’s elections. The case will give the court’s liberal majority the opportunity to reverse a ruling the court made less than two years ago — when conservatives held the majority — that significantly reduced the number of absentee ballot drop boxes in the state. If the court’s current 4-3 liberal majority overturns that ruling, it could result in a return of the widespread use of absentee ballot drop boxes for the upcoming presidential election. Read Article

Wisconsin: What we know about Milwaukee’s election plans after Claire Woodall | Alison Dirr and Mary Spicuzza/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Following Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s announcement that Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall would not be reappointed, little information has surfaced regarding plans to ensure a smooth presidential election in November. Johnson intends to nominate Election Commission Deputy Director Paulina Gutiérrez to lead the commission, providing assurances of staff, equipment funding, and city government support for polling locations and absentee ballot counting. Despite concerns about the transition, Johnson expresses confidence in Gutiérrez’s capabilities, amid intense scrutiny on Milwaukee’s election administration, particularly given former President Trump’s claims of “illegal votes” in 2020 and expected challenges in the upcoming election rematch. Read Article

Wisconsin Republicans recruiting legion of monitors to observe polls, set stage for lawsuits | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Republican National Committee and Trump campaign are set to mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers and attorneys to monitor and potentially challenge voting processes in battleground states like Wisconsin, echoing former President Donald Trump’s baseless election claims and positioning the effort as a response to alleged “Democrat tricks” from the 2020 election. GOP officials aim to recruit 100,000 individuals nationwide for observing election processes, conducting regular training sessions, and focusing on various aspects of the electoral process, including early voting, absentee ballot processing, and post-election procedures. Read Article

Wisconsin election observers may have to keep their distance | Government | Erin McGroarty/The Cap Times

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is reviewing proposed rules regarding election observers, a critical issue given the state’s potential role in the upcoming presidential election. Republican lawmakers previously sought to grant observers closer access to polling proceedings, but Governor Tony Evers vetoed the bill due to concerns about potential intimidation of election workers. The commission’s draft rules maintain the current distance regulations, prompting some criticism from Republicans and residents who argue that observers need to be closer to effectively monitor for fraud. However, others, like Eileen Newcomer from the League of Women Voters, support the draft rules, emphasizing the need to balance transparency with ensuring voters’ rights without intimidation. Read Article

Wisconsinites with disabilities demand a better way to vote at home, but security concerns may be a hurdle | Alexander Shur/Votebeat

Stacy Ellingen, an Oshkosh resident with athetoid cerebral palsy, faces formidable barriers when attempting to vote due to Wisconsin’s insistence on paper ballots, a format she struggles to complete due to her disability. Although assistance is available, Ellingen hesitates to share her political preferences with caregivers and fears future elections when her parents may not be around to help. Alongside three other voters with disabilities and advocacy groups, Ellingen has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, challenging the state’s absentee ballot system for failing to accommodate individuals with disabilities, contending that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit aims to enable electronic absentee voting for people with disabilities, similar to what is available to military and overseas voters in many states. However, concerns over the security risks associated with internet voting persist, with experts cautioning against potential threats such as client-side malware, hacking of voters’ computers, denial-of-service attacks, identity verification issues, and the absence of a physical ballot for voters to verify. Read Article

Wisconsin elections chief Wolfe gets extra security as Trump attacks | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Former President Donald Trump is targeting Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe, falsely accusing her of election rigging and pressuring top Republicans to remove her ahead of the next presidential election. Trump’s attacks on Wolfe, similar to his tactics in Georgia, come amid ongoing threats against her, prompting additional security measures. Wolfe defends Wisconsin’s election integrity, emphasizing the nonpartisan nature of her role and the dedication of local election officials. Despite Trump’s claims, multiple audits and reviews confirmed the legitimacy of the 2020 election results in Wisconsin. However, his rhetoric raises concerns about public safety and the integrity of the electoral process, with officials urging focus on substantive issues rather than baseless allegations. Read Article

Wisconsin referendums passed; what’s next and what don’t we know yet? | Hope Karnopp/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin voters have approved two statewide referendums, one prohibiting the use of private grants or donations to administer elections, and the other restricting election-related tasks to officials designated by law. Despite the majority vote, potential ambiguity, especially in the second question, raises concerns about possible lawsuits. Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty stated they would only sue if private parties sought to fund election administration, though the firm has challenged election laws before. Stemming from Republican scrutiny of “Zuckerbucks,” the referendums address concerns over grants funding election activities, with opponents worried about the language’s vagueness. Implementation timelines and potential legal challenges remain uncertain, including whether donations from individuals are also banned and the scope of tasks designated for election officials. Read Article

Wisconsin ballot questions on election administration are too vague, officials say | Alexander Shur and Jack Kelly/Votebeat

Wisconsinites will vote Tuesday on two proposed amendments to the state constitution that could reshape how elections are run in the state — but voters, and many election officials, don’t know exactly how the broadly written proposals would be interpreted by state election officials and the courts. Election officials said the second proposal could have especially unpredictable consequences. That one seeks to ban anybody besides election officials from performing “any task in the conduct of any primary, election, or referendum.” How strict would that ban be? Would it mean that elections officials couldn’t hire private companies to print ballots or assemble voting machines? Or that they couldn’t ask other city workers to set up polling sites? Officials and experts aren’t sure. Read Article

Wisconsin is lagging behind other swing states in shoring up election policies following 2020 chaos | Adam Edelman/NBC

Wisconsin, a critical battleground state, faces significant challenges in shoring up its election integrity ahead of the next presidential contest. Despite being a focal point of election disputes in 2020, little legislative action has been taken to address vulnerabilities exploited by Donald Trump’s campaign. Efforts to clarify absentee ballot procedures and close loopholes remain stalled, exacerbating concerns among election officials and watchdogs. The decentralized nature of election administration and partisan gridlock have hindered progress, with the Wisconsin Elections Commission facing partisan attacks and threats. Read Article

Wisconsin: Milwaukee seeks election equipment grant ahead of April 2 referendum | Alison Dirr/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Milwaukee Election Commission is seeking a private grant of nearly $800,000 for election equipment ahead of the November presidential election, with Executive Director Claire Woodall noting that the funding source, Washington D.C.-based Cities Forward, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose donors remain undisclosed. Woodall emphasized the non-partisan nature of the grant and its agreement, which prohibits any attempts to influence election outcomes or engage in political campaigns. The grant request follows past scrutiny over similar grants, fueling speculation and ongoing debates about election integrity. The grant, if approved by the Common Council, would fund equipment purchases to address operational challenges, particularly related to absentee ballot processing. Read Article

Wisconsin fake elector settlement offers new details on the strategy by Trump lawyers | Sophia Tareen/Associated Press

A settlement reached in a lawsuit on Monday revealed that two attorneys for former President Donald Trump orchestrated a plan for fake electors to submit paperwork falsely claiming Trump won Wisconsin in an attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. The settlement, which followed a civil lawsuit brought by Democrats in 2022, unveiled over 1,400 pages of documents, emails, and text messages detailing the scheme’s origins and replication in six other states. Although there is no admission of wrongdoing in the agreements, the attorneys promise not to participate in similar efforts in future presidential campaigns, with one also agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount to the plaintiffs. The documents illustrate how the attorneys utilized arcane laws to draft false certificates for fake electors and strategized to delay deadlines for certifying electoral votes while attempting to sway public opinion. Read Article

Wisconsin’s extreme gerrymandering era ends as new maps come into force | Sam Levine and Andrew Witherspoon/The Guardian

For over a decade, Wisconsin’s state legislature elections have been effectively predetermined by heavily gerrymandered district lines favoring Republicans, regardless of voters’ preferences. However, following a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s legislative maps due to constitutional violations, new maps were passed by the Republican-led legislature last week, drawn by Governor Tony Evers. The new plan significantly shifts the political landscape, potentially allowing Democrats to vie for control of the state assembly in November and potentially the state senate in 2026. While the new map undoes some of the severe gerrymandering of the past decade, it still exhibits bias favoring Republicans, albeit to a lesser extent. Read Article

Wisconsin: ‘Monday processing’ bill appears unlikely to become law | Baylor Spears/Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin Assembly leaders are urging the Senate to pass a bill allowing for “Monday processing” of absentee ballots, arguing that it would enhance transparency and public confidence in the electoral system. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos criticized Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu for suggesting the bill’s unlikelihood of passage, emphasizing concerns over late-night ballot processing. Despite bipartisan support in the Assembly, the bill faces opposition in the Senate committee, with opponents citing unfounded election conspiracy theories. Read Article

Wisconsin Assembly passes bills regulating AI use in elections | Todd Richmond/Associated Press

Wisconsin lawmakers have passed bills focused on regulating artificial intelligence (AI) in election contexts, particularly concerning political advertising and disinformation. The legislation mandates that political candidates and groups using AI in ads must include disclaimers, aiming to enhance transparency for voters who may struggle to discern fact from fiction. These measures highlight efforts to safeguard election integrity and combat the spread of false information as the use of AI in political campaigns continues to evolve. Rerad Article

Wisconsin Elections Commission adopts partial witness address rules for absentee ballot envelopes | Mitchell Schmidt/Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin Elections Commission issues new guidance allowing local election officials to accept absentee ballot envelopes with partial witness address information, following a Dane County judge’s order. The decision aims to ensure that ballots with discernible witness addresses are counted, amid concerns about potential disenfranchisement due to address errors. The ruling comes after a contentious debate, with a Republican commissioner proposing additional requirements for voters, which was rejected. Meanwhile, legislative Republicans introduced a bill to tighten absentee ballot requirements, including fines and jail time for violations, in a move challenged by Democrats. Read Article

Wisconsin: Challenge to absentee ballot rules is a step closer to state Supreme Court | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

Democrats are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of several voting rules in Wisconsin, including the ban on absentee ballot drop boxes, which was implemented in 2022 after criticism from former President Donald Trump. The appeal comes after a circuit judge ruled that the lawsuit did not meet the high burden required to declare the voting rules unconstitutional in every application. The lawsuit, filed by national Democratic firm the Elias Law Group, seeks to reinstate drop boxes and eliminate requirements such as a witness signing absentee ballots and correcting ballot problems by 8 p.m. on Election Day, arguing that absentee voting is a right protected by the Wisconsin Constitution. Read Article

Wisconsin: Ballot drop box disinformation and the fight over voting | Hannah Ritvo/PBS

After a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling to ban ballot drop boxes in the state, former President Donald Trump used social media to question past election results, claiming the decision includes the 2020 Presidential Election. The ruling, prompted by a lawsuit from the conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, declared that drop boxes are not allowed for use in elections as they are not defined in state law. Despite the decision not applying retroactively to prior elections where drop boxes were used, supporters of Trump who deny the 2020 election outcome have cited the ruling, contributing to disinformation about the results. Read Article

Wisconsin GOP rift over impeaching Meagan Wolfe boils over in Assembly | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Divisions within Wisconsin Republican lawmakers have escalated as leaders continue to obstruct efforts by a small faction to impeach the leader of the Wisconsin Election Commission, Meagan Wolfe. Representative Janel Brandtjen attempted for the second time to bring forward a resolution for impeachment proceedings against Wolfe over false claims about the 2020 election. Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August blocked the move, describing it as a “big show for the cameras.” Read Article

Wisconsin judge rules mobile voting sites not provided for in state law but backs other early voting sites | Jessie Opoien/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Racine County judge has ruled against the use of mobile absentee voting sites, delivering a partial victory to Republicans who contested the deployment of an absentee voting van in 2022. The van, funded by a grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, was accused of disproportionately targeting Democratic voting wards. The ruling does not express “an opinion regarding the efficacy of the use of mobile vans to further the popular use of in-person absentee balloting,” the judge noted. “This ruling stands for the proposition that such determinations are for the legislature to direct and cannot be a novel creation of executive branch officials.” Read Article

Wisconsin judge rules election clerks can accept absentee ballots missing parts of witness address | Jessie Opoien/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Dane County judge in Wisconsin ruled that election clerks in the state may accept absentee ballots with incomplete witness addresses, as long as they can determine how to reach the witness from the available information. The decision came in response to a request by a Madison voter and the liberal group Rise Inc. to revise guidance provided by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) on handling incomplete addresses. The ruling establishes a uniform standard and is expected to reduce the rejection of absentee ballots. The decision may be appealed and could reach the state Supreme Court. Read Article

Wisconsin elections commission rejects complaint against Trump fake electors for second time | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has unanimously rejected, for the second time, a complaint against fake presidential electors who sought to cast the state’s ballots for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. The commission initially rejected the complaint in March 2022, but a judge ordered a rehearing in May. The complaint asked the commission to investigate the fake electors’ actions and declare them in violation of the law. The commission’s closed-door discussion and unanimous vote were released on Wednesday, without providing an explanation for the decision. Read Article

Wisconsin clerks could soon process absentee ballots a day early. Why is the change happening? | Hope Karnopp/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin’s “Monday processing” bill, which would allow clerks to start processing absentee ballots one day early, has passed a Senate committee and is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The bipartisan-supported bill aims to prevent voter confusion and conspiracy theories resulting from late processing of large numbers of ballots. Advocates argue that the change will offer a more accurate picture of election results earlier on Tuesday night, reducing the impact of late-night “ballot dumps.” The bill is particularly relevant for communities using central locations to count absentee ballots. Read Article

Wisconsin Trump electors settle lawsuit, agree Biden won in 2020 | Patrick Marley/The Washington Post

In a civil settlement, 10 Republicans in Wisconsin who falsely claimed to be presidential electors in 2020, submitting certificates to Congress asserting that Donald Trump won the state, have agreed to withdraw their inaccurate filings, acknowledge Joe Biden won the presidency, and not serve as presidential electors in 2024 or any election where Trump is on the ballot. The settlement represents the first time pro-Trump electors have agreed to revoke their false filings and refrain from repeating their actions in future presidential elections. Read Article

Wisconsin: Republican lawmakers propose abolishing Elections Commission, giving duties to the Secretary of State | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A group of Republican lawmakers is proposing to dissolve Wisconsin’s bipartisan elections commission and transfer its duties to the secretary of state’s office, currently held by Democrat Sarah Godlewski, ahead of the 2024 presidential election. The proposal requires Godlewski to take over election administration by June 30, though her actions would be subject to approval by GOP-controlled legislative committees overseeing election issues. This move is part of the Republican-controlled Legislature’s efforts to overhaul election administration in Wisconsin, with critics arguing that it is an attempt to interfere with or control election outcomes. Read Article

Wisconsin judge bans absentee ballot spoiling | Joe Kelly/Courthouse News Service

A Waukesha judge has issued a permanent injunction against the practice of “ballot spoiling,” preventing voters from canceling an absentee ballot they have already returned to cast a new one. The decision by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Brad Schimel, a former Republican attorney general, supports the conservative group Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, which filed the lawsuit against the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. The group argued that the commission unlawfully advised clerks and the public that ballot spoiling was permitted. The judge’s decision comes amid ongoing litigation in Wisconsin over absentee voting rules, with various legal challenges from conservatives seeking to restrict certain practices. Read Article

Wisconsin Governor to sign amended bill that will allow clerks to begin processing ballots a day early | Hope Karnopp/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Governor Tony Evers is expected to sign a bill allowing clerks in Wisconsin to begin processing absentee ballots a day early, following bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Assembly. The legislation aims to address concerns about late processing leading to voter confusion and conspiracy theories. The bill, which mandates Monday processing for central count communities (those processing all absentee ballots in one location), also includes provisions for clerks to periodically report ballot counts and for circuit courts to promptly inform the Wisconsin Elections Commission about voters deemed ineligible. Some proposed amendments, such as prohibiting early running of ballots through voting equipment, were removed in favor of increased efficiency, according to clerks. Read Article

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker assigns impeachment articles against elections chief Meagan Wolfe to committee | Molly Beck Jessie Opoien/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has referred impeachment articles against Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe to the Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight, following a campaign by a group threatening Vos with recall or primary challenges if he didn’t advance the articles. This move comes after Vos initially favored a legislative process to hire a new administrator. The ads targeting Wolfe, which falsely claim she implemented policies decided by the agency’s panel of commissioners and should be removed, were launched by the Wisconsin Election Committee, Inc., a group led by individuals with connections to past challenges against Vos and promoting false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Read Article

Wisconsin judge rules that GOP-controlled Senate’s vote to fire top elections official had no effect | Harm Venhuizen/Associated Press

A Dane County judge ruled that the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate’s vote to remove the state’s nonpartisan top elections official, Administrator Meagan Wolfe, last month was legally ineffective, and lawmakers are barred from ousting her during an ongoing lawsuit. Wolfe will continue to serve as the head of the Wisconsin Elections Commission while a decision is pending on whether elections commissioners are legally obligated to appoint someone for the Senate to confirm. This ruling comes after Senate Republicans voted in September to remove Wolfe, a move contested by Democrats and nonpartisan attorneys who argued that the Senate lacked the authority for such a vote at that time. The judge’s decision follows a change in stance by Republican legislative leaders, who now assert that their vote to fire Wolfe was merely symbolic and held no legal weight. Read Article

Wisconsin: Few Republicans have confidence in elections. It’s a long road for one group trying to change that | Christine Fernando/Associated Press

Election officials in rural Wisconsin counties like Oconto are grappling with the spread of election conspiracy theories, driven in part by false claims of a stolen election by former President Trump. Kim Pytleski, a lifelong Republican and clerk in Oconto County, has encountered skepticism about the election process, even facing the label of “Republican in Name Only” for defending it. Efforts to combat misinformation include community events and conversations, with groups like Keep Our Republic holding town hall-style forums to restore faith in elections. However, the deep partisan divide and persistent spread of false claims present significant challenges in restoring trust in the electoral process. Read Article