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Elections Commission shrugs off law again

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 21, 2021

MADISON — The Wisconsin Elections Commission’s decision to continue to suspend Special Voting Deputies for the February primaries is a clear violation of state law, the chairwoman of the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee tells Empower Wisconsin. 

In a 5-1 ruling this week (including two of the three Republican members of the six-member commission), WEC maintained its extralegal guidance that municipal clerks should mail absentee ballots to nursing homes. They also are not supposed to send out the voting deputies to assist residents vote. 

Some voters have raised concerns about the guidance, ostensibly issued to protect the most vulnerable populations from COVID-19. 

But State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), the new chair of the Elections Committee, notes the many calls she and her colleagues received last year about nursing home employees illegally influencing or leading the voting decisions of cognitively impaired senior citizens in long-term care facilities. 

“After all the phone calls we had about the injustices of individuals, I am absolutely shocked that, once again, we’re gong to let some of our seniors be taken advantage of,” Brandtjen said. “We had plenty of calls from family members who said, ‘My mom couldn’t mail in an envelope but she (somehow) requested an absentee ballot.’”

“The fact that we’re going to let this continue is criminal,” she added. 

The law is clear: special deputies must be dispatched, and ballots must be hand-delivered. 

“State law does not give WEC the authority to require or suspend SVDs in long-term care facilities. WEC’s decision to suspend the practice runs afoul of state law,” said state Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) in a press release. “By suspending SVDs, WEC is effectively ordering the mailing of ballots to vulnerable individuals without the guardianship and ballot oversight expressly laid out in state election law.”

Following the law would be absurd during the pandemic, liberal members of the Elections Commission said. 

“What we did in 2020 saved lives,” Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, said of the policy on nursing homes. 

Bob Spindell was the only Republican member of the commission who voted against the continued suspension. 

Republicans have vowed election reform legislation will be a priority this session. 

Stroebel said it’s time the Legislature remedy the Elections Commission’s abuse of power, and it needs to put forward a “robust election integrity package.” 

“The Elections Commission now has a proven record of ignoring the intent and plain meaning of the law for logistical convenience,” the senator said. “Lawmakers should leave no ambiguity in the statutes so courts are properly armed to enforce our election law.”

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7 thoughts on “Elections Commission shrugs off law again

  • “Following the law would be absurd during the pandemic…” and thus ends the future of Wisconsin – if we allow it. Acquiescence leads to servitude.

  • ELECTION REFORM MUST GET DONE IN WISCONSIN THIS SESSION. THE SOONER THE BETTER. WE THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN WERE CHEATED IN THIS LAST ELECTION AND DESERVE BETTER.
    I’M ASHAMED THAT WISCONSIN DIDN’T PUT IN PLACE THE RIGHT LEGISLATION TO PREVENT FRAUD IN OUR PRESIDENTIAL 2O20 ELECTION.

  • Our legislature has to start standing up for the rule of law. After all of the fraud and unlawfullness was brought to light, our elections commission wants to continue on the same path, even though everyone knows it’s illegal. This is just blatant arrogance and a complete disregard for the law. Can these members be removed?Will the legislature actually do something for the people of this state? Time will tell, but I’m not holding my breath. They complain and whine, but that’s all they do and they’re the ones with the power to actually do something. SIGH!!!!!

  • Stop sending ballots automatically to anyone period. We all know its fraud and abuse and if the election commission doesn’t stop it they need to have their power revoked and disbanded. Turn the reins over to state the legislature.
    WE MUST STOP THGE FRAUD IN VOTING!

  • Evidently, there is enough ambiguity in current state law to allow for this. Otherwise, Brandtjen and Stroebel would be able to sue to stop it BEFORE the election.

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