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Election reform measures move to Evers’ desk

MADISON — The Republican-led Legislature has passed and forwarded on to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk another round of election reform legislation aimed at bringing more transparency, accountability and security to Wisconsin’s elections.

Evers will more than likely kill the election integrity measures with his veto pen.

AB 173 / SB 207, authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), blocks “Zuckerbucks” in Wisconsin election administration.

Private liberal groups, funded with hundreds of millions of dollars from CEO Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, effectively embedded themselves in election offices in heavily Democratic cities in Wisconsin and other battleground states in the run-up to the presidential election.

Stroebel’s bill prohibits governments from contracting with private entities for election administration and bans any election grants that include clawback provisions, as the Zuckerberg-funded grants did in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. Any election-related grants must first go to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, where the money would be distributed on a per-capita basis to all municipalities statewide. That would prevent a concentration of the funds in certain geographic regions.

Other Stroebel bills close voter ID loopholes to those who claim “indefinitely confined” status, bans ballot harvesting, and requires long-term care facilities to admit Special Voting Deputies unless there is a declared health crisis.

“We developed these common-sense solutions in response to Wisconsin-specific problems,” Stroebel said. “These are not, and should not be, partisan issues. Each of these measures makes our election laws more uniform and our election process more transparent.”

The Assembly this week passed a bill that clarifies the state law on ballot curing. Existing state law seems pretty clear that ballots with incorrect information must be either corrected by the voter or discarded. The Wisconsin Elections Commission took it upon themselves to massage the law, particularly in November’s election, advising that election clerks could write in missing information.

“For too long, we have relied on arbitrary guidance and not the law when it comes to curing ballots,” said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), author of the bill. “Fixing problems on a ballot is a good thing. Who fixes those mistakes is also important. Until the vote is counted, the ballot should belong to the voter, not a clerk or an outside group.”

Another measure from Darling, Senate Bill 210, ensures election observers are allowed uniform and nondiscriminatory access to the election process —  including the certification of election technologies, early voting, absentee voting, voter appeals, vote tabulation, and recounts. In the presidential election and the recounts that followed in Madison and Milwaukee, observers repeatedly complained about elections officials not allowing them to do their jobs.

“When the rules are clear for everyone, our election process will be much smoother,” Darling said, “This is another common-sense reform that needs to be signed into law.”

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