State of Elections

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Tag: Wisconsin

Special Election Battle in Wisconsin

By: Richard J. Batzler

As pundits assess the political climate in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections, special elections provide key insights into electoral trends. Earlier this year, Wisconsin was the site of two State Senate races that buoyed the hopes of those working toward a “blue wave.” But one of these elections almost never took place, as all three branches of state government clashed over whether the Governor had to call special elections in the first place.

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Wis-communication: Trouble in the Badger State

Despite a July 2016 ruling from a federal District Court invalidating many provisions of Wisconsin’s controversial package of voter ID laws, problems persist for many voters seeking to register to vote, or to procure an ID that will allow them to vote. Reports that certain Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices, which have the authority to issue valid voter IDs, have not fully complied with the federal court’s order continue to crop up.

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De-Clawing a Badger: Western District of Wisconsin Softens State Voter ID Law

In a sweeping opinion handed down in late July, United States District Judge James Peterson struck a substantial number of voting provisions from the books in Wisconsin. The opinion, which spans 119 pages, found that multiple voter restrictions enacted by the state legislature were motivated by a desire to advantage incumbent and aspiring Republican officials. The court first rejected the plaintiffs’ facial challenge, relying on a 7th Circuit decision which held that even if some voters have trouble complying with the law, and those voters tend to be racial minorities, the law is not necessarily facially unconstitutional. This initial victory in preserving the overall voter ID law marks the extent of the defendants’ success in the case.

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Wisconsin: After Frank v. Walker

Wisconsin: after Frank v. Walker, a new case — One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol — was filed on May 29th, 2015 to challenge Wisconsin’s election laws again.

By: Lisa Zhang

In a recent complaint filed by One Wisconsin Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, and six Wisconsin residents, plaintiffs challenged several Wisconsin voting provisions, including 2011 Wisconsin Act 23. I previously discussed the Equal Protection challenges made in this case in an earlier post. Below is an analysis of the case’s challenge under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

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Wisconsin: One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol

By: Lisa Zhang

One Wisconsin institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, and six Wisconsin residents filed a complaint against a series of provisions that Wisconsin has made since 2011 to its voting and election laws.

Interestingly, Wisconsin’s election laws just withstood a challenge that had lasted for four years. On March 23, 2015, the Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari of Frank v. Walker. In Frank, plaintiffs challenged 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, which specifies limited acceptable forms of photo IDs, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the district court found it in violation of both the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The 7th Circuit reversed the judgement on the ground that Wisconsin’s Voter ID law does not differ in ways that matter under the analysis in Crawford v. Marion.

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John Doe is Dead – Wisconsin Supreme Court Denies Motion to Reconsider

By Dan Sinclair

It appears Wisconsin’s controversial “John Doe” investigations into conservative political groups is finally at an end. Again.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday reaffirmed an earlier ruling that halted the investigations, declaring the acting special prosecutor has no grounds to continue investigation of groups suspected of illegally coordinating with the recall election campaigns of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

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Wisconsin Senate Passes Campaign Finance, Election Board Overhauls

By Dan Sinclair

In a lengthy session stretching from last Friday night to the early hours of Saturday morning, the Wisconsin Senate voted to approve a pair of bills making significant changes to the state’s campaign finance laws and election oversight. The latter provision entailed an official plan to replace Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB), a nonpartisan elections and ethics board. Republican legislators had made both issues a priority in recent months, with last weekend’s vote coming less than a month after legislators held a hearing to propose sweeping changes.

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Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

 By: Dan Sinclair

In 2008, in the wake of a legislative caucus scandal and partisan rulings by the state’s Elections Board, Wisconsin announced the formation of a new non-partisan ethics and elections agency. The Government Accountability Board (GAB), formed from the merger of the Elections Board and Wisconsin’s Ethics Board, was intended to provide an independent body capable of investigating criminal and civil violations of the state’s ethics and election laws free from the partisan and financial pitfalls that wracked its predecessors.

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Move Over Motor-Voter: Michigan’s Pursuit of Statewide “Renter-Voter” Law

By Staff Writer

In 2013, the city of East Lansing, Michigan passed an ordinance requiring landlords to provide their tenants with voter information and registration applications when the tenant first moves into the unit. Home to Michigan State University and its roughly 49,000 student population, East Lansing (by a 4 to 1 City Council vote ) took novel steps to help ensure students are able to register to vote at their college residence. While some landlords believed the ordinance was “way off base,” East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett dubbed the ordinance a “no brainer.” Then-City Clerk Marie McKenna noted that the ordinance would remind students who recently moved from one city residence to another to update their registration. Although in the neighboring state of Wisconsin the legislature recently passed legislation preempting an almost identical city ordinance, some Michigan legislators are aiming to expand this landlord duty statewide.

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WI (voter id): Badger ballot blues: early issues with Wisconsin’s voter ID law

by Chris Lewis

Could Wisconsin soon be the center of another political controversy?  A test run of the state’s new voter identification law on Oct. 11 led to long lines and frustrated voters, which could cause state Democrats to amplify their attacks on a law they already claim is costly and intended only to suppress voter turnout. State Republicans have expressed strong support for the law since its passage in May, and have expressed no desire to make any changes before it takes full effect before February’s primary elections.

Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl called for the mock election after noticing irregularities during July’s State Senate recall elections. Poll workers in those elections were instructed to request voters’ identification even though it was not yet required.  Witzel-Behl indicated that the workers were inconsistently following this instruction.  Following Tuesday’s mock election, Witzel-Behl estimated that it took each voter two minutes to present identification and sign the poll book, a standard she found “very alarming.” She also noted that several people left the line due to the long wait. Continue reading

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