April 10, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Politics: State Government: Voting: Channel 3000: Gov. Jim Doyle says Fixing bureaucratic errors must not disenfranchise voters

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Special Report: RPCV Jim Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin: Special Report: Governor and Tunisa RPCV Jim Doyle: April 10, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Politics: State Government: Voting: Channel 3000: Gov. Jim Doyle says Fixing bureaucratic errors must not disenfranchise voters

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Gov. Jim Doyle says Fixing bureaucratic errors must not disenfranchise voters

Gov. Jim Doyle says Fixing bureaucratic errors must not disenfranchise voters

Gov. Jim Doyle says Fixing bureaucratic errors must not disenfranchise voters

Fixing bureaucratic errors must not disenfranchise voters
Posted: April 9, 2005

Looking back at the 2004 election, there has been a lot of attention about what went wrong. But one of the most overlooked stories of the last election is that in Wisconsin almost 3 million people voted - ranking our state third in the nation in voter turnout, with more than 75%.

As a state, we should be very proud of our high turnout, and as we look to reform our election laws, we should be working to build on that leadership because we still have 25% of our eligible population not participating.

It is clear that in the last election there were significant bureaucratic mistakes, and we should fix those problems. But we should never let a bureaucratic mistake take away someone's right to vote.

Recently, I proposed a comprehensive package of statewide election reforms to address some of the problems we have seen not only in Milwaukee but across Wisconsin. These reforms work to encourage, not discourage, participation and will help ensure the integrity of our election system.

Some in the Legislature are calling for drastic changes to our election laws - ending same-day registration and requiring photo ID cards at the polls. But these proposals center on stopping people from voting, instead of actually fixing the problems with our election system.

Under the Help America Vote Act, the state is required to create a statewide computerized voter registration list by Jan. 1, allowing coordination with other state agency databases, such as the felons' database at the Department of Corrections, to verify accuracy and eligibility.

The system will go a long way to keep track of voters and help prevent fraud, but there is much more that we can do to ensure our elections are effective, efficient and honest.

My proposal includes the following measures to better prepare for elections and ensure smooth and orderly voting processes, better train and recruit poll workers, and prevent voter fraud.

Requiring municipalities to develop election day plans that have a goal of a 30-minute maximum waiting time to avoid hour-long lines and discouraged voters.

Joining the 23 other states that allow for early voting to allow municipalities to get a head start on counting ballots, including absentees. No election results will be released until after the polls close, but this will ease the burden on city clerks.

Allowing municipalities to establish satellite early voting locations at places such as grocery stores, shopping malls, libraries, community centers and senior centers.

Allowing people to register to vote when applying for or renewing a driver's license at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Requiring all poll workers and special registration deputies to undergo training. And we will provide counties with consistent, easily accessible training courses by video and the Internet.

Recruiting more poll workers to meet the staffing needs of high voter turnout. We will call on private companies to allow their employees to take election day off, without losing pay; encourage qualified high school students to volunteer as poll workers; and facilitate the sharing of municipal, county and state workers.

Prohibiting voter registration drives from paying on a per-voter or quota basis to protect the quality of the information gathered and eliminate a financial incentive for workers to forge signatures or register the same voter twice.

Establishing uniformity in polling locations and registration cards to prevent confusion on election day. Wisconsin - for the first time - will have a uniform voter registration form to give us a more orderly collection of registration information. We will also require all polling locations to be open the same hours, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Merging the State Elections and Ethics Boards into one agency to ensure that our elections laws are being effectively and independently administered.

Reforming the redistricting process to ensure competitive races. Despite the nearly even partisan divide in Wisconsin, only two incumbent legislators facing re-election were defeated in 2004. Almost half of legislators ran unopposed. We will charge the non-partisan Legislative Research Bureau to draw the state legislative districts without using incumbents' addresses and previous election results so that districts aren't drawn just to protect an incumbent.

Safeguarding the system to stop ineligible felons from voting. We will alert poll workers to possible ineligibility, require same-day registrants to be cross-referenced against an updated Department of Corrections list after the election and require same-day registrants to affirmatively certify when registering that he or she is not a felon still on probation or parole.

Allowing access to voter birth date information to help determine whether anyone voted improperly. We'll put safeguards in place to protect privacy, but this information will help guarantee the integrity of our elections.

All of these measures will be adopted using funds from the federal Help America Vote Act. To date, Wisconsin has received about $50 million under the voting act.

This proposal provides the common-sense reforms that Wisconsin needs to address an overwhelmed and under-resourced election system. But it does so without compromising the constitutional right to vote.

I would hope and expect that these proposals will have bipartisan support, because as elected leaders, we have an obligation to ensure the integrity of our elections. I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact these comprehensive reforms.

Jim Doyle is governor of Wisconsin.

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Story Source: Channel 3000

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Tunisia; Politics; State Government; Voting



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