The movement by professional politicians to control local elections continues its trajectory to perhaps destroy Democracy as we know it.
Both professional political parties have staked out their long term strategies to minimize surprises in elections. For Republicans, this means minimizing the get-out-the-vote efforts that favor Democrats and for Democrats it means resisting any and all efforts to challenge or restrict their voting block.
Just as gerrymandering controls ‘areas’ of voters, this new control over absentee voting limits the hours available to types of voters to cast ballots. What types? The ones that can be motivated just a few weeks before elections to shift the gerrymandered vote to the other side. It also impacts the nursing home voter, the hospitalized voter, those without transportation, and those with unusual work schedules.
Here is one description of how this affects towns in Wisconsin. In case you don’t know, many towns have part-time Town Clerks.It is their responsibility to conduct the voting process. While the law applies to Towns, Villages, and Cities, it is towns with part-time Town Clerks that have this special problem.
Not the best news to report. Apparently, there has been a change in the law and we will no longer be allowed to just list “by appointment” for our part time clerks in the Type E Absentee notice. I’m waiting on specific guidelines from GAB as to if there is a minimum number of hours that have to be listed and any other requirements. Just want to give you heads up. This won’t be an issue for those of you who already list your hours but it does affect the rest of you. You might want to talk with your colleagues to get their take on this…
Here are some of the options that were listed by Diane at GAB:
- Allow absentee voting during all office hours
- Allow absentee voting during specified hours
- Allow absentee voting during specified hours and by appointment at other times
- Allow absentee voting by appointment during specified hours
Here is the statute:
6.86 Methods for Obtaining an Absentee Ballot:
(1) (b) Except as provided in this section, if application is made by mail, the application shall be received no later than 5 p.m. on the 5th day immediately preceding the election. If application is made in person, the application shall be made no earlier than the opening of business on the 3rd Monday preceding the election and no later than 7 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election. No application may be received on a legal holiday. An application made in person may only be received Monday to Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. A municipality shall specify the hours in the notice under s. 10.01 (2) (e) (which is the Type E Notice).
In sum, one way or another, you’ll have to lock yourself down on the hours that you’ll be conducting in-person absentee voting, or making appointments, and stick to them, and it must take place during the 10 day in-person absentee voting period sometime between Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., and no more than 45 hours a week.
Towns with part-time Town Clerks had great flexibility to meet a voter at the Town Hall on a weekend or any time that both could agree to be there and take care of this absentee voting. This appears to be gone now. It also appears that Town Clerks that have full time jobs plus part-time Town Clerk responsibilities will be most impacted by this set of changes.
(The Type E notice is for absentee voting. See here.)
Residents who planned to vote before they left town for a month or a week may find themselves limited in their use of the absentee ballot.
In summary, more local controls where none are needed. Another milestone in limiting voting to certain types of voters.