Legislation clarifies procedures, ensures rule of law, increases accountability
UPDATE: Election integrity reforms are being voted on in the Wisconsin legislature this week.
The News: Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) Policy Director, Kyle Koenen, is testifying and registering in favor of a group of election integrity and reform bills under consideration before the Senate Elections Committee. Many of the policy reforms reflect recommendations from WILL’s “Review of the 2020 Election,” published in December 2021. WILL’s election review was recently heralded as the “best summary of the 2020 election” by the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
- Summary of election integrity reforms earning WILL support
The Quote: WILL Policy Director Kyle Koenen, said, “Ensuring confidence in Wisconsin’s elections starts with common-sense reforms that keep voter rolls up to date, requires state agencies to follow the law, increases transparency and oversight, and clarifies rules and procedures so Wisconsin elections are conducted fairly and uniformly across the state. The legislation WILL is supporting will accomplish these goals.”
The Reforms: WILL is registering in support of the following bills currently under consideration by the Senate Elections Committee. Many of these bills include policy recommendations from WILL’s recent “Review of the 2020 Election.”
Senate Bill 934
- This reform makes changes to how voter rolls are updated and maintained and ensures that the Wisconsin Elections Commission is responsible for deactivating “movers” flagged by ERIC.
Senate Bill 935
- This reform will ban the use of private resources, like the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), in the administration of elections.
- Clarifies what constitutes a complete absentee ballot certificate and bars clerks from “curing” absentee certificates that do not contain the appropriate information.
- Finally, in the event of a pandemic or infectious disease spread, allows for an alternative to special voting deputies for absentee voting in nursing homes and retirement facilities.
Senate Bill 936
- This reform streamlines the complaint process at WEC by requiring complaints to be voted on by the full commission within 60 days.
- Allows complaints against WEC to go straight to court, instead of the commission.
- Increases transparency of election complaints filed to WEC.
Senate Bill 937
- Requires individuals seeking indefinitely confined status to have an illness or disability that is expected to last over 1 year.
- Requires individuals on the indefinite confinement list that possess an ID to present one, ending a loophole to get around voter ID.
- Requires clerks to remove voters from the indefinitely confined list if they vote in-person.
- Changes how individuals apply for indefinitely confined status, removing a check box from the website and requiring a separate form. This should remove accidental registrations and reduce the number individuals claiming the status even if they are not indefinitely confined.
Senate Bill 940
- WILL’s election review identified more than 20,000 voters who have data mismatches with what is on file with Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. Federal law requires a cross-check, but nothing is currently done when a mismatch is discovered.
- This reform lays out a specific process whereby election officials can use DMV checks to ensure voter rolls and voter registration information are as accurate as possible.
Senate Bill 941
- Requires federal funds for election administration to obtain legislative approval before being spent.
- Increases transparency by requiring WEC to keep a monthly archive of the voter registration list.
- Requires clerks to submit additional registration and voting statistics to WEC following an election, making it easier for citizens to spot potential issues.
- Requires WEC to introduce bipartisan legal counsel to advise commissioners.
Senate Bill 943
- This reform ensures that WEC guidance is sent to the Joint Committee on Rules and Regulation (JCRAR) to determine whether the agency needs to issue a rule and follow the process in state law.
- WILL Testimony to the Senate Elections Committee, February 7, 2022
- WILL Testimony to the Assembly Committee on State Affairs, February 21, 2022
- A Review of the 2020 Election, December 2021
- The Best Summary of the 2020 Election, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, January 25, 2022