A loophole in the law has led to a state agency in Wisconsin urging would-be voters to register to vote for the November election without proving they are in fact Wisconsin residents, Media Trackers has learned. State law says that anyone who registers to vote 20 days or more before an election does not have to prove they are a resident in order to vote at a Wisconsin polling place. Wisconsin is a battleground state as both parties find the road to the White House and control of the U.S. Senate running directly through it.
On its Twitter account, the Government Accountability Board, a so-called non-partisan election watchdog run by unelected bureaucrats tasked with running elections in the Badger state, has repeatedly tweeted out links to the state’s official voter registration form while helpfully noting that registrants do not need to prove they actually live in Wisconsin. “Open registration ends on 10/17 for the 11/6 election. No proof of residence is required,” one tweet reads.
While state law does allow an individual to register to vote in some cases without proving residency, the wisdom of emphasizing that quirk is open to question. During the attempted recall of Governor Scott Walker state law did not prohibit individuals from bribing people to sign recall petitions, but that was not something the Government Accountability Board touted. One serious lapse in judgment made by the Board during the recall was to say they would consider as legitimate the obviously false signature of “Mickey Mouse” on a petition to recall Walker. Conservative new media coverage of the absurdity forced them to change their policy.
Out of state residents voting in Wisconsin elections has been a problem before. In April 2011 three Service Employees International Union political organizers registered to vote from a hotel room at a hotel just north of Milwaukee. The trio used out-of-state drivers licenses and room receipts to qualify as voters. Currently the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.
Lawmakers concerned about election integrity have yet to pass comprehensive election reforms that would close various loopholes and eliminate certain bad practices. The voter ID law they did pass, however, has been held up in Madison courts by organizations led by individuals tied to groups that helped deliver an Obama victory in Wisconsin in 2008. Carolyn Castor of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters has led the fight against the voter ID law despite the fact that she was an ACORN community organizer in 2008 with several of her former staff convicted of election fraud after the election.
Polls show the battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney particularly tight in Wisconsin. The U.S. Senate race between Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Tommy Thompson is also tight. Thanks to rancorous recall elections generally instigated by labor unions and Democrats, the public’s confidence in the political system is not particularly strong though overwhelming numbers delivered an historic victory to Governor Walker in June.
For a state board to emphasize election loopholes that speak to a system lacking integrity and basic protections undermines public confidence in the outcome of November’s election. The Government Accountability Board should not be pointing out loopholes in the system; it should be working to strengthen the public’s confidence in elections by protecting the integrity of the process.