Election laws hang in the balance for 2012

Forgive Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), if he feels like a referee overseeing a game in which the players keep trying to change the rules.

The GAB was created by legislation that was approved by both houses with overwhelming bipartisan support way back in…2007. The intent was to take the politics out of the decisions about how elections are conducted in Wisconsin.

But now, questions about the GAB’s role, as well as the rules affecting the implementation of the voter ID law, the redistricting of the state, the recalls of four state senators, Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and more are all hanging in the balance and appear to be headed toward courtroom showdowns.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon), called upon the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to review the GAB’s decisions on implementing the state’s new voter ID law and the recalls in November.

The Republicans want the governor and the legislature to decide the fate of any GAB rules. In other words, the very people who are being recalled would have the final say on how those recalls will be conducted.

The fallout has been chaos about which forms of student identification can be used to vote. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was told that its current student ID cards do not meet the law’s definition of valid voter identification. So, UWM and five other UW campuses will issue separate new ID cards for students to vote, at taxpayer expense.

Furthermore, lawmakers continue to debate whether students at Wisconsin technical college even legally qualify as college students, leaving the voting rights of Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) students hanging in the balance.

Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed over the date on which the state’s new redistricting maps go into effect. Republicans want the new maps in place for the recall elections.

State Sens. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) also has proposed a bill that would require all recall signatures to be notarized, which would effectively stop recalls from happening in Wisconsin.

Kennedy will try to bring the public up to date on all of the moving goal lines when he is the featured guest at the Milwaukee Press Club’s next Newsmaker Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Newsroom Pub in downtown Milwaukee at 137 E. Wells St. To register to attend, visit www.milwaukeepressclub.org.

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