Milwaukee’s Elections Commission reneged on a settlement with the Wisconsin GOP to block voting from scores of non-existent city addresses, Greg Borowski reports in today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Lisa Artison finds herself in the middle of another controversy about the mishandling of the presidential election with the revelation:
The votes came from addresses that were among 5,619 the state Republican Party challenged less than a week before the election as non-existent. The city Election Commission rejected the claim, saying the party hadn’t met the high legal standard for removing names from poll lists.
That led GOP officials to question Tuesday whether the city complied with its later agreement to have poll workers seek identification from anyone who attempted to vote from those addresses.
“I don’t think there should have been anyone voting from the 5,600 addresses,” state GOP chairman Rick Graber said. “We had an understanding. We had an agreement. For whatever reason, the city did not live up to its end of the bargain.”
Artison has changed her rhetoric in the past couple of days as more examples of incompetence or worse arise from Milwaukee’s polling data. Yesterday she reversed her previous antagonism to the city’s investigation by claiming to welcome anyone willing to help Milwaukee “improve the election process.” She may soon get more help than she expects:
Meanwhile, the state is moving closer to an audit of election procedures that is expected to include a major focus on the problems in Milwaukee.
The statewide audit, which had already been approved by the Legislature, has been accelerated, and a “scope of audit” – the step that formally launches the state probe – could be approved as soon as Thursday.
The Journal-Sentinel reviews the outstanding issues thus far in the Milwaukee debacle, adding more details as well. For instance, the mystery votes don’t just appear for presidential elections. Last year’s mayoral race in April saw 3,500 votes from same-day registrations that could not later be verified, or about 2% of the total 161,000 votes cast and about a third of that from the presidential election. (The Milwaukee Election Commission and its state counterpart do not have the number of same-day registrations from the spring election available.) The MJS also determined that 75% of the 1200 addresses that appear to be false came from same-day registrations.
With that in mind, Wisconsinites should question their governor to see if he pays any attention to the fraud and/or incompetence occurring in his largest city. They should also question his honesty:
Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who opposes a photo ID requirement, said Tuesday he believes most of the issues raised could be traced back to processing problems, not fraud.
“I think we have a pretty good system,” Doyle said. “If you register at the polls, you have to show appropriate identification to show that you are who you claim to be and that you reside at that location.”
The one lesson everyone can take from the Silence Of The Cheese is that Wisconsin has a demonstrably lousy election system. If you take the results at face value, their largest city has to register a third of its voters on Election Day, leading to all sorts of errors. Further, Doyle overstates the requirement for registration. The only identification necessary at the polling station is another registered voter willing to vouch for his or her (or their) authenticity. If he doesn’t know that, then perhaps he should refrain from commenting on Wisconsin election law until someone explains it to him.
At least now it looks like the Wisconsin legislature plans on getting some answers, thanks to the dogged reporting of Borowski and the insistence of Rep. Jeff Stone. Mayor Barrett’s cheesewash panel should be put on permanent hiatus.