Spokesperson for Elections Watchdog says State Statutes "may not be practical"
A Wisconsin Government Accountability Board official confirmed to RightWisconsin that the agency charged with overseeing elections ignored state law and failed to purge invalid registrations off the statewide poll list in time for the April 2, Spring Election.
According to GAB Spokesman Reid Magney "the GAB’s required four-year list maintenance is going to be starting in mid-April, when people on the list who have not voted in the past four years will be receiving a postcard notification."
Magney admitted the purge has been delayed.
"We would normally have done this earlier in the year but because many municipalities had not finished entering the voter participation information into SVRS for the November election, we decided to wait until after the Spring Election so as not to cause confusion," said Magney.
But Mary Ann Hanson of We’re Watching Wisconsin Elections notes that the GAB is violating state-statute in their delay. "One of the most important responsibilities assigned by law to the Government Accountability Board is to maintain the State Voter Registration System (SVRS) as an accurate and current list of all eligible Wisconsin voters."
Hanson explains how the SVRS is supposed to be maintained in regard to state law.
"State statute, 6.33 (5) requires clerks to update any entries into the SVRS from their registration list after a general election, such as the November 6 Presidential election, with 45 days after the election but does grant a clerk the option to request a 15-day extension if necessary," she said. "This process was required to be completed by December 21, 2012 (45 days) or if extension granted, by January 4, 2013."
Hanson said it's not just some local clerks who are violating the law.
"State statute 6.50, also, requires that within 90 days (February 4, 2013) of a general election voters who have not voted within the past four years of a general election be notified by the G.A.B. that their voter registration will become "inactive" within the SVRS unless the voter requests continuation of their "active voter registration," she said. "To reactivate a registration, the voter would need to re-register. The 90 days is specific in the statute and there is no extension granted to this responsibility in state statute."
Magney acknowledged that "The statutes set standards for when municipalities are to complete entering voter history information in SVRS, but they may not be practical."
Magney said, "Given that some of the clerks were not able to complete their work on time this year, it made no sense to attempt to send out the four-year maintenance postcards so close before the Spring Election because it would likely cause confusion."
So what did Wisconsin's election watchdog do?
"It was decided it would be more practical to do it after the Spring Election," says Magney.
Magney explained that the SVRS maintenance after the 2008 general election was completed prior to the Spring Election in 2009. But following the 2010 election, the postcards were not mailed until after the 2011 Spring Election.
Today's revelation is the latest in a series of problems with the GAB's maintenance of the poll lists. When the MacIver Institute reviewed the state voter list for the 26th Senate District in June 2012, they found enough errors and bookkeeping mistakes to "question the accuracy of every single record in the database."
Magney told RightWisconsin that the postcards will require a response by mid-May. Assuming the GAB sticks to this timeline, voters who should have been purged from the voter rolls three months prior will be able to vote in the Spring Election, including the statewide election for State Supreme Court.
Come back to RightWisconsin throughout the day for continuing coverage of this story as it develops.