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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

UPDATE: Watchdog group to Government Accountability Board: CLEAN UP THIS LIST!


Tuesday I posted a lengthy announcement from the group,
We’re Watching Wisconsin Elections Campaign.” The group claims there is a significant number of ineligible voters on state voter lists that should be removed.

It didn’t take long for the state’s elections board if you will, the Government Accountability Board (GAB) to respond. The following was submitted to me by Reid
Magney, public information officer for the GAB:


Your blog post about cleaning up Wisconsin’s voter list contains substantial errors in fact and in law.

The blog post contains a grossly false statement that the Government Accountability Board spent “well over a million of your taxpayer’s dollars” contacting 70,000 voters. The true figure of $117,000 has been a matter of public record since the Board’s March 2010 meeting. That figure covered the entire job of running HAVA checks on 777, 561 voter records, contacting the non-matches and updating the records of those who responded.

Since the development of the Statewide Voter Registration System, the Government Accountability Board has moved aggressively to identify instances of possible voter fraud and refer them to the appropriate district attorneys for prosecution. These include people who vote more than once in Wisconsin or vote in Wisconsin and another state, as well as felons who vote when they are ineligible. The Government Accountability Board has also worked tirelessly to improve the accuracy and reliability of the SVRS voter list.

It is absolutely wrong to say 70,000 citizens should be arbitrarily kicked off the voter list because their voter information did not exactly match up with another government database, or because they may have ignored a letter from the government. This rhetoric may sound good to those who wish to perpetuate this kind of sensationalism, but it only demonstrates a lack of understanding of the purpose of matching voter information with other government databases. Such a purge of the SVRS is against state law.

Wisconsin is in full compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, which required states to develop and maintain statewide voter lists, and to remove ineligible voters from those lists. In fact, HAVA § 303(a)(2)(B)(ii) requires that “Only voters who are not registered or who are not eligible to vote are removed” from the list. Voter eligibility in Wisconsin is determined by the Wisconsin Constitution and Wis. Stats. §§ 6.02, 6.03 and 6.10. Under Wisconsin law, an individual is qualified to vote who:

1) Is a U.S. citizen;

2) Is age 18 or older;

3) Has resided in the election district or ward where he or she offers to vote for 10 days without any present intent to move, and to which, when absent, the person intends to return;

4) Has not been adjudged incompetent, and,

5) Has not been convicted of treason, felony, or bribery, unless the person’s right to vote has been restored through pardon or completion of the sentence.

 

An elector may not be disqualified from voting unless the municipal clerk determines that the individual does not meet these qualifications. The standard for making the decision is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Wis. Stats. §6.325. The Government Accountability Board’s job is to help Wisconsin’s 1,851 municipal clerks identify voters who may be ineligible.

After the 777, 561 HAVA checks, 695,201 voter records were matched, and slightly more than 70,000 (9 percent) non-matches remained. (Note that this number of non-matches has been reduced to 66,521 as of August 19, and it will continue to decrease daily). Of those, 18,443 letters came back undeliverable, meaning these voters may have moved and need to re-register. The Board will be directing municipal clerks to remove these individuals from the poll lists as required by law.

The Board is following the rule of law in determining who is qualified to vote, and can not arbitrarily kick people off the voter list. Complying with HAVA means completing the matching process, not guaranteeing that voter registration and driver license records match exactly. In many cases, that exact match can only be achieved by forcing people to get new driver licenses. The Board cannot and would not interfere with the constitutional rights of thousands of citizens who have done nothing wrong, just to make two computer lists match exactly.

W
isconsin law does not permit the removal of voters because the spelling of their names on the voter list does not match the spelling on their driver licenses. Or because one database uses a full middle name and the other uses a middle initial. Or because of a clerical error entering a birth date or other number that prevents an exact computer match.

The Government Accountability Board diligently searches public records for names of people who are deceased, been convicted of a felony, have moved, or who meet the other legal reasons for removal from the voting lists. The purpose of HAVA checks is simple: constantly improve the accuracy and reliability of the voter list. It is a dynamic process which results in the continuous improvement of election administration in Wisconsin.

Just as the Board aggressively pursues cases of voter fraud, the Board will continue to protect each eligible citizen’s constitutional right to vote from arbitrary government actions, such as capricious voting list purges. Those who urge a summary purge of 70,000 fellow citizens from the voter rolls fail to understand the purpose of HAVA matches, and diminish the constitutional right to vote for all Wisconsin citizens.


KF NOTE: I sincerely appreciate the GAB's immediate response. The exchange of ideas in a reasonable, respectful manner is always welcome.

Since the GAB has joined the legion of folks reading This Just In, might I send a personal message: SUPPORT PHOTO ID!

Also, missing in the GAB's response to the watchdog group is any reaction to this segment from their release:

Wisconsin Has One of the Most Fraud Prone Election Systems in the Country:

 

* No Photo I.D. required * Deceased people “vote” * Residency requirement is only 10 days * People could easily vote more than once * People could steal your vote by simply giving your name & address. * People from bordering states can vote here too * Our State-wide Voter Registration List has thousands of unverified names on it * Over-worked and under-trained  poll workers can lead to errors.

So, Mr. Magney, if you're reading, and I know you are, do you have any thoughts on the above? Here is a cordial invitation for you to respond to that paragraph as to whether it is also a grossly false statement. It is rather blunt and direct, and makes serious allegations. True? Not true? It shouldn't take long to make a determination, given your speedy response to my blog Tuesday. I anxiously await your response that I will be more than happy to publish. Again, I thank the GAB for its resposne to, in its view, set the record straight, and for scheduling a public hearing on this matter. Please note, there has been a change in the location of this Monday's meeting. Here are the details.












 

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