Report Finds Problems With Wisconsin's Voting Process

This story was written by Christie Green, The Marquette Tribune
A new report has Wisconsin state legislators predicting last years voter registration issues could persist in February 2008 elections, said Rep. Pedro Colon (D) of the 8th district, which includes Milwaukee.

The state's Legislative Audit Bureau report reviewed November 2006 election efforts to ensure this time around, voting procedures run more smoothly.

The report said the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 required all states to have a centralized voter registration system, but the election matching failed in the November 2006 and February 2007 elections.

The elections board believed that the $22.7 million voter registration system would not be working by the February 2008, the report said.

"I don't believe anybody understood the list would be ready by the elections," Colon said.

He said legislators were misled as to whether the list would be ready.

Colon said the federal government recognized the state would not be ready to meet the requirements of HAVA and the Department of Justice gave the state more time to meet the requirements.

Municipalities were sent lists of felons who were still serving their sentences and are ineligible to vote. But 16 municipality clerks did not use the lists, the report said.

"I think were going to see the only way to clean up the list so that it is up to date is with the help of the Milwaukee (Election) Commission," Colon said.

Milwaukee's trained election officials need to step it up with voter registration by training poll workers correctly, Colon said.

Neil Albrecht, assistant director of Milwaukee's Election Commission, said city officials hope the state elections board uses the report to correct the problems.

He said the problems with voter registration are relatively insignificant.

"I think there has been a spell cast and air of fraud, especially in the city of Milwaukee, but in my neighborhood everybody votes correctly," Colon said.

Amelia Pantone, a senior in the College of Business Administration, voted in the November 2006 elections.

She said it was easy to register to vote and she understood the rules for registering.

"They posted signs and they told you when you got up there who could and could not vote," Pantone said.

One of the problems revealed by the report was the accessibility for disabled voters. Federal and state laws require voting places to have disability access.

The report found problems with parking, entrances and voting areas at many of the 36 poll places the board visited, said the report.

The city Election Commission is working on correcting the municipality problems the report revealed with access for disabled voters, Albrecht said.

Albrecht said the city is developing a plan for polling sites to have disabled voters access to parking.
© 2008 The Marquette Tribune via U-WIRE