From UP NORTH NEWS:

A recent favorite of mine, UP NORTH NEWS is smack on top of all things Wisconsin. You may have read my email exchange with State Rep. Romaine Quinn a few weeks ago. As I predicted, the Republicans don’t care about the spread of COVID among the general population. But it also appears their duplicitous behavior is oh-so-much-more.

This building where Scott Walker, having never campaigned in 2010 on a promise to slash workers’ collective bargaining rights, announced he and legislative Republicans were going to slash workers’ collective bargaining rights. This building where Walker, having spent his 2014 re-election campaign never fully embracing the perversely named “Right to Work” laws, cheered when legislative Republicans rushed the union busting bill to him once the campaign was over.

This building where Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos –having hurriedly passed lame duck legislation curtailing the powers of the incoming Gov. Tony Evers– said they were shocked, SHOCKED that the governor had no contact person for them as legislative leaders, only to be reminded that they had been told repeatedly to work with Evers’ chief of staff, just as they had with Walker’s. 

So when Republican legislators claimed on Wednesday to be apoplectic at learning a recent telephone conversation with the governor had been recorded, it only begged one question: what had Fitzgerald and Vos said after previous meetings that made someone on Evers’ staff determined to ensure there was an accurate record of what was actually discussed?

To be fair, nobody on Evers’ team is publicly claiming as much. The official response was that for such an important meeting –negotiating a new potential set of coronavirus safeguards after Republicans successfully got the state Supreme Court to kill the existing rules– recording was necessary to ensure accurate note-taking so that any new rule drafts would reflect the conversation.

But as it turned out, notes were not necessary. The Republicans, whose argument to the Supreme Court was that they wanted “a seat at the table” in crafting a new set of rules, told Evers there would be no seats needed, no table, no new rules; they would veto anything Evers offered.

And yet they now claim to be shocked that there was a lack of trust to the point where someone felt a recording was necessary?

More Judicial Activism?

The right-wing activist responsible for organizing the “Freedom Rally” in Madison where up to 72 people caught coronavirus is one of 17 plaintiffs in a lawsuit that aims to overturn most remaining stay-home orders in the state and prevent more from ever being issued, even as some are already expired and most of them are set to expire within the next few days.

The suit calls stay-home orders, designed to stop the spread of coronavirus, “irrational and unjustifiable” and claims health officials “lack a compelling, legitimate, or rational interest in the orders’ application.”

So once more there is a push to abandon StayAtHome orders in Wisconsin.

Look, it is one thing to say we have to learn to live with COVID-19 (my point for three months now) instead of ONLY ISOLATING. And it is completely different to say abandon ALL StayAtHome orders.

Who benefits if more people contract COVID-19 and are hospitalized and perhaps die?

FEND FOR YOURSELF has never sounded so ominous as it does now.

It appears there aren’t enough bodies in the street for some people.

Since when has a working policy proved its value so well and yet people are rushing in to trash it so completely?

COVID Emails with State Rep Part 3

Hopefully, you have kept up with the progression of my emails to my State Rep over the COVID actions taken by the State of Wisconsin.  And once again, allow me to remind you I am a fan of my State Rep. He is a good man.

I was pointy-headed in my previous response to my State Rep. His reply below has bit of tone to it also. I expect this in a citizen-representative dialogue. I presume he does, too.

Here’s his reply on Friday May 15th:

We aren’t asking for help, we’re asking for the Governor to recognize that there is another co-equal branch of government that he should work with when making decisions. After talking with leaders from other legislative bodies throughout the country, our Governor is one of the few that chooses not to include us in his decision making process, let alone inform us before taking actions.
Did the Governor have the authority to make unilateral decisions for the first 60 days under his order? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he gets to continue to do whatever he wants, but just through his secretary. You say the law is clear that he could continue to do so, but the Supreme Court disagrees.
We have been asking the Governor over and over to meet to negotiate on how best to re-open. He has refused time and again to do so. We’ve asked to look at taking a regional approach to re-opening – he’s rejected that too. We’ve asked him for the metrics he’s using to make almost daily and sometimes odd changes when it comes to who gets to open or stay closed — once again he doesn’t tell us. 
There is no point in passing a plan to regionally re-open or ease restrictions when it still has to clear him, which is why we’ve asked him to meet. At this point, I believe XXX County officials are much more capable at setting guidelines for our area than the administration, and they do have the authority to do so. Blaming one side or the other for the spread of a virus which is based upon actions taken by individuals is sad. I didn’t expect that kind of rhetoric from you.
As you can see, my State Rep is disingenuous again about metrics and knowledge. He has re-framed what the legislative leadership did and is doing. He says there is no point in passing a plan when it has to clear the governor anyway. This is true of everything the legislature does so this isn’t a valid reason for not creating a plan at all in the three weeks it took for the ruling.  A plan which could have been sent IN ADVANCE to the Department of Health Services in order to prevent turning the State of Wisconsin into “shambles”.
I sent my reply to my State Rep yesterday. Here is what I said:
With respect Representative XXX,
Since January 2019, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has blocked Palm’s nomination (RC: Andrea Palm is the head of the Department of Health Services). Some Republican leaders have called for her resignation. An up-or-down vote should have occurred but it has not. That is on the leadership of the Senate.
You can imagine that there might be a reluctance to include Republican leadership in discussions that the law clearly allows. As you recently wrote to me “State law is clear: Governor Evers can use DHS to take drastic action without consultation with the Legislature.”  And the Wisconsin Supreme Court obviously thinks that Section 252 of the Wisconsin statutes does not mean what the Wisconsin legislature intended when it was passed. Shame on them.
In your recent email, you brought up the issue of not knowing what metrics were being used and what plans there were and yet the Wisconsin Outbreak web site is full of metrics and information. That website is a good example of government transparency.
Anyone following the crisis knows that Wisconsin’s Bounce Back Program is showing four out of six favorable indicators for re-opening Wisconsin. The state process is working under the leadership of Palm and the Governor.
And yet, the Republican leadership demanded a seat at the table. To get a seat at the table, Republican leadership broke the darn table.
There was nothing wrong-headed about Palm’s approach. In fact, Republican leadership requested the Wisconsin Supreme Court wait six days after reaching a decision so they could negotiate with the Governor. They were rebuffed by the Supreme Court. What kind of leadership says the order is illegal and Palm is destroying Wisconsin and then says but wait six days before you stop the plan?
This duplicitous maneuver was rejected. The Supreme Court effectively said “You petitioners said it was broken and harmful. Why wait?”
The Republican leadership merely wants the ability to say No. It is power. Adolescent power to say no to the things they don’t like. That is not caring for the people. It is taking care of oneself.
XXX, you are still my guy. You are a good person and we need good people in government.
Please do not say things like “At the entrance of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol, the ceiling is painted with the motto “The will of the people is the law of the land.” It’s time Governor Evers understands what that truly means.”
This wasn’t about the will of the people. It was about the will of the Republican Party being thwarted by state law.
The evidence is clear.
I apologize for using the inclusive “you” in my email… I did not intend to direct personal responsibility to you for the consequences of breaking the table to take a seat.
It is clear Republican leadership broke a working process that not only flattened the curve but had placed Wisconsin in a very favorable position for re-opening.
The results of breaking that process will be evident in the next two weeks. The Republican Party will have some explaining to do about “unintended consequences.”
Hopefully, there is a skilled carpenter who can create a new table.

COVID Emails With My State Rep

As you may have read in earlier posts, I was irritated my State Rep had brought partisan politics into a pandemic. I admire my State Rep and do not wish him ill.

It buggers me completely why elected officials  BETWEEN elections. Is there some reason why they feel compelled to shove Party politics into everything he talks or writes about? Can’t they simply be EVERYONE’s State Representative in his District?

You can imagine my reaction when my State Rep sent out his monthly newsletter to me and said this:

“Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”

I expressed my displeasure with the tone of that paragraph. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had ruled the StayAtHome order invalid and the leadership of the legislature did not have a plan to replace it. The leadership had three weeks inbetween to prepare something but didn’t.

As you can see, my State Rep’s tone shifted from language like:

“He must tell us what statistics he is using to measure our progress and decide what actions to take…He must tell us what actions his Department of Health Services (DHS) is taking proactively to reduce the harm of this pandemic…He must explain why he is refusing to re-examine what kinds of businesses must stay closed and how he is making those decisions…He must explain what he plans to do with the approximately $2.2 billion that Wisconsin will receive from the federal government’s stimulus package.”

The tone shifted from knowing to doing. From “tell us” to one of “to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters.

It’s obvious this lawsuit was no longer about keeping the legislature informed but it was really about giving the legislature a political position to negotiate the pandemic response. The authority and responsibility for public health crisis is spelled out in Wisconsin Statute 252 on Communicable Disease. It is all on the Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health Services.

My State Rep is disingenuous when saying “ask him to negotiate”. In fact the lawsuit accuses the Executive branch of government in this way:

“Purporting to act under color of State law, an unelected, unconfirmed cabinet secretary has laid claim to a suite of czar-like powers—unlimited in scope and indefinite in duration—over the people of Wisconsin,” reads the GOP complaint. “Per her decree, everyone in the State must stay home and most businesses must remain shuttered (with exceptions for activities and companies arbitrarily deemed “essential”).”

The complaint also reads:

“By the time the Secretary sees fit to lift her decree (be it in five weeks or eight months), many Wisconsinites will have lost their jobs, and many companies will have gone under, to say nothing of the Order’s countless other downstream societal effects,” the complaint argues. “Our State will be in shambles.”

Irritated once again, I fired off a second email to my State Rep. As I said, I was irritated by the tone of that paragraph and by the Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the StayAtHome order. (which was in accordance with State Statutes)

I said the following:

You wrote: “Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”
Should we voters infer the Republican Party that said the renewal order was illegal (even though the DHS clearly has the authority to do what it did under Section 252 of the Wis. Statutes),  should we infer the Republican Party does not have a plan to open Wisconsin safely and needs help from the DHS?
Takes balls to muck things up  and then ask for help.
Where’s the Republican Leadership plan for managing the pandemic?
Every COVID case from now on is a result of your support for politicizing the pandemic management.
I might remind you of this as the Wisconsin COVID cases rise in XXX County.
The law was/is clear who has the authority to manage communicable disease outbreaks and Republican leadership had to muck this up by making it political.
I might remind you that you should not fix what ain’t broke. And…You broke it, now You own it.

As you can see, I was irritated at the tone in that paragraph. I placed the blame for future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Wisconsin clearly on Republican leadership.

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the StayAt Home order, there was nothing in the legislature to take its place. Shame on the Legislature. Shame on the Supreme Court.

The good people of Wisconsin were abandoned by the Supreme Court and the legislature.

The not-so-good people of Wisconsin celebrated in bars and restaurants and have now become anonymous carriers of COVID-19.

 

Covid Emails with State Rep

My first COVID email to my State Rep was non-partisan. He replied with a partisan email and I was irritated that he did. I sent him the following:

With respect, Representative XXXXX
The moment you used the word “Republican” below, I knew you weren’t on my side. I knew you didn’t care about the people of your District or the State of Wisconsin. Instead you care about your partisanship and you care about making Governor Evers pay politically for his decisions.
I am sick to death of legislators making every damn thing about politics and the optics of a situation. We have a crisis and you put partisanship above leadership. You put partisanship above compassion. You put partisanship above your representation of the common man in your district.
I don’t want you to do anything.Forget my first letter completely. You go do what your handlers want you to do.
I haven’t given up on you yet but every once in a while you might want to nip the Republican hand that feeds you. Remind them you are a Wisconsin dog first and a Republican dog second.
With respect,

 

COVID Email Reply From State Rep

Here is my State Rep’s reply:

Thank you for your thoughts on Governor Evers’ extension of his Safer at Home order through May 26. These are truly unprecedented times, and input from the district on this issue has been incredible.

Wisconsinites care for our neighbors, and even if we were worried, we listened to the Safer at Home guidelines to make sure that we kept each other safe. The fact that our hospitals are still mostly empty is testament to everyone doing their part in a difficult time. However, the actions we needed to take have had consequences that have impacted all of us – economic insecurity, mental health crises, and the grief of not being able to see our loved ones.

A crisis needs leadership, and the extension of this order does not show the kind of forward thinking that will bring Wisconsin out of this crisis successfully. Governor Evers owes every Wisconsinite some explanations:

·         He must tell us what statistics he is using to measure our progress and decide what actions to take.

·         He must tell us what actions his Department of Health Services (DHS) is taking proactively to reduce the harm of this pandemic.

·         He must explain why he is refusing to re-examine what kinds of businesses must stay closed and how he is making those decisions.

·         He must explain what he plans to do with the approximately $2.2 billion that Wisconsin will receive from the federal government’s stimulus package.

From day one of this crisis, Republican leaders have offered our help and our goodwill to the Governor. We passed a bill to ensure that he has the tools he needs to bring Wisconsin out of this disaster. We have recognized that we must all work together for the good of the state. Instead of working with us, he has stonewalled us, refusing to discuss his plans or give us insights into what he thinks it will take to re-open Wisconsin’s economy.

Now, Republicans must consider our options. The Senate has not yet confirmed DHS Secretary-Designee Palm, and it should seriously consider whether her actions have merited the position. We also demand that the Governor explain himself and his goals: even if we are not “out of the woods,” we need to know what the road map looks like.

State law is clear: Governor Evers can use DHS to take drastic action without consultation with the Legislature. However, we cannot and will not accept silence and arrogance when people in our districts need action.

Please know that I am working with my colleagues daily to explore every avenue we have to push back against the Governor’s overreach and make sure that we are putting all of our citizens first. At the entrance of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol, the ceiling is painted with the motto “The will of the people is the law of the land.” It’s time Governor Evers understands what that truly means.

Sincerely,

StayAtHome: Emails with Wisconsin Rep

Four weeks ago I sent my State Representative and my State Senator an email protesting the extension of the Wisconsin StayatHome Order. My State Representative is a good man whom I’ve met several times and he replied promptly. I haven’t yet heard from my State Senator.

The next few postings are about the content of those emails.

Email #1:

With respect, Representative XXXXX
Why is Wisconsin shuttering ALL of its citizens for another month?
One size does not fit all. What is good for Milwaukee County (with a population density of 3,800 people per square mile) does not work for Barron County (with a population density of 52 people per square mile).
If you live in Barron County, you are already shuttered in place.
Can we get a break, please?  After four months of an invasive pathogen, our county has had 6 cases of confirmed COVID-19. Zero deaths. We have already flattened the curve by living here.
Look, we have to learn how to live with this disease. It will be around for three more years minimum. Here’s what should be talked about:
a) Counties with less than 100 people per square mile and a low infection and death rate should have a much more open lifestyle. The more people per square mile, the more restrictions should be in place.
b) every building the public enters should have a sanitation station and signage that says all who enter must sanitize. Same as when they leave.
c) every building the public enters should have a posted “public area sanitation plan” for people entering to decide if that plan is sufficient for their safety.
d) Face masks should be required by anyone, everyone, within 50 feet of a building that the public enters. If you are in the woods or parks or outdoors jogging, no face masks are required if you are with family members. If you are in the same places with strangers, then face masks are required.
e) If a person wears a mask and gloves, no social distancing requirements are required but they are encouraged.
f)  Protect all nursing homes and places where healthcare workers are present. Everyone wears PPE ( gloves, masks, disposable garbs), a sanitation plan is posted, a screening process is utilized for those who wish to enter.
g) Workplaces: sanitation plans are required. Masks and gloves and sanitizing stations available for employees and may be required PPE by management.
h) Counties with more than 500 people per square mile and a high infection rate should have shuttered-in policies for non-work hours. Counties with more than a thousand people per square mile should have 24-hour shuttered-in policies.
i) Meetings and gatherings of non-family and non-colleagues: Sanitization stations, sanitization plans, masks, gloves, and in some cases garb.
j) Neighbors and children playtime: Give some guidance on this, please. Sticky kids (snotty, dripping, drooling, leaking) cannot play outside. All kids come in and change clothes and wash up before roaming the house. Home sanitization plans make a lot of sense. Why not develop them?
The issue isn’t to prevent any possible case of spreading the virus, the issue is to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease while living a normal lifestyle.
Tell the rest of the legislature to start treating people like adults. Give us the plan, give us alternatives, and get the heck out of the way so we can live our lives in peace and freedom.
Protect the elderly and the immune-compromised. Why is that so hard to do?
Let’s get people back to a somewhat normal lifestyle. You and your legislative friends can move mountains, can you also make some plans to live with this disease until there is a cure and a vaccine?

Wisconsin Republicans and the Law

By now everyone in America is aware that Republican leadership in Wisconsin legislature complained to the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the renewal of the Wisconsin Stay At Home order was unconstitutional.

The first emergency order came from the Governor and it was uncontested by the Republican leadership.

“Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 using a state law that grants governors the power to address emergencies resulting from “a disaster or the imminent threat of a disaster.” The governor’s declaration authorized DHS to “take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to incidents of COVID-19.” The Legislature can revoke the governor’s powers, but even if lawmakers don’t act, they expire after May 11.”

The extension of the original order, however, did not come from the Governor. It came from the Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm. And she came to her job through an appointment. An emergency appointment that was never confirmed by Wisconsin Legislature. The Republican leadership does not like her and has since demanded that she be fired. This led to the complaint to the Wisconsin Supreme Court that an unelected and unconfirmed Cabinet Secretary was using the power of the law to shutter Wisconsin businesses.

“But it was Palm — not Evers — who issued Wisconsin’s initial Safer at Home order on March 24 and then extended the order until May 26 last week. Palm used the authority given to her under a different set of laws designed to manage communicable diseases. Those don’t require the governor’s approval, and they don’t expire with his emergency order.”

Section 252 of Wisconsin statutes grants powers to the DHS related to communicable diseases. Those powers include the ability to shutter businesses.

The conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court have now ruled that DHS order by Cabinet Secretary Andrea Palm is illegal. This is judicial activism at its worst.

In an unusual twist, the Republican leadership requested the ruling but they also requested that the effect of the Supreme Court ruling be delayed one week while working out new rules through the legislative process. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ignored this request and immediately blocked the Wisconsin Stay at Home order issued by Palm.

Which now leaves Wisconsin in limbo with no state-wide rules and each County can enact Public Health rules as they see fit.

This means nobody is going to pay attention to the County Health Departments’ “guidance” as law.

As you can imagine, the bars in northern Wisconsin are full of people drinking and cajoling and breathing infected air. A spike in Wisconsin’s COVID infection may be expected in four to seven days.

The nature of that spike and the deaths related to it is all on the heads of the Wisconsin Republican leadership and the Wisconsin Supreme Court who decided to meddle in Public Health and the powers granted to the Department of Public Health by law.

Politics kills people. We will know soon enough how many and for how long.

 

How to operate a government building during the COVID-19 crisis

Here are my thoughts on the operation of a government facility during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s time we start talking about living with the risks instead of avoiding them with Stay-At-Home orders. If you have a better process than local control, let me know. —-ReasonableCitizen

Living with COVID-19 is a reality. This operational plan doesn’t prevent all possible occurrences of public transmission of COVID-19; however, it reduces the risk that a mass outbreak will occur as a result of a single infected person.

Top government officials within a function or a facility should be responsible for establishing an Infection Control policy for employees and citizens it serves. In addition, an Infection Control Committee should be established in functions or facilities that have more than 30 employees. The size and scope of the Committee should also be determined by top government officials. The purpose of the Committee is to reduce the propensity for an outbreak infection when conducting government affairs. The purpose is not to prevent all possible infections; these infection risks occur naturally in our environment. The Committee is to reduce, not eliminate, the risks that one infected person may infect many others.

Infection Control Policy should include:

1. Developing a Function or Facility Sanitization Plan

Strike Zone Sanitization: Sanitize all horizontal surfaces in the Strike Zone that the public or employees may touch when entering, conducting their business, or exiting the building. The Strike Zone is between the knees and shoulders of an average height adult. Sanitize all Strike Zone areas of vertical surfaces like doors and windows and trim, which the public or employees may encounter.

Frequency of Strike Zone Sanitization: Door handles, customer windows, and public work counters/surfaces: every two hours. Trim and other Strike Zone areas before and after the work shift.

Equip all customer-facing personnel with disinfectant to clean as often as they feel it is necessary.

Establish a Sanitization Station at public entrances/exits for the public and employees to sanitize when entering and leaving a government building.

2. Reducing human-to-human (H2H) droplet transference:

Employ transparent plastic shielding between employees and the public at all public-facing windows and counters.

Employ masks and gloves where appropriate. Changing as needed throughout the day.

Implement a “No Sticky People” policy for employees and the public. People with runny noses, sneezy, coughing, drooling, or leaking bodily fluids are not permitted to enter unless they have an appointment. They should be escorted to and from the appointment area wearing appropriate PPE. A designated meeting area for Sticky People is preferred but not required.

3. Signage and Cautions: Deploying signage throughout the facility explaining the Sanitization Plan for the building and the No Sticky People Policy. The signage should remind everyone that personal responsibility to prevent infection is just as crucial as Sanitization Plans for the public-at-large. People should be told they are in control of themselves. They may choose to accept risks for themselves; however, they should also be mindful of risks to others. Because the nature of COVID-19 allows for asymptomatic transmission, all adults are encouraged to protect their mucosal areas from virus infiltration.

4. Protecting personnel:

  1. Government employees should be provided with the necessary PPE for the performance of their responsibilities. Such PPE is determined by top government officials in conjunction with the Infection Control Committee.
  2. Personnel may employ additional personal protection as they feel necessary to perform their responsibilities. If those additional protections interfere with other departmental employees or the departmental work, the department supervisor will provide coaching and set PPE standards for the ongoing performance of the department. The employee has the right to appeal those standards to Human Relations and Infection Control Committee for adjudication. A decision by HR and the Infection Control Committee is binding on the employee.
  3. Social distancing policy is to be utilized in areas where the public-at-large has access. Social distancing rules may be relaxed in non-public areas of the building, as determined by the Infection Control Committee and top government officials. Meeting rooms and conference rooms should have the sanitization schedule posted in a visible location.

5. Change the operational nature of government and citizen interaction:

  1. Provide phone assistance with e-form completion and provide web-based tutorials on the use and purpose of government services.
  2. Change the business hours for all governmental public-facing activities from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Retain the hours for non-public-facing activities as appropriate. These hours may assist employees in finding convenient and suitable childcare and provides greater opportunity for flexible work hour arrangements. This will also ensure citizens are able to fit government services into their daily schedule as many working Americans work 8-5 pm.

6. Special Conditions and Rules:

Cafeteria and restaurants: Within a government facility, cafeterias and restaurants are subject to the policies established by the Infection Control Committee and may include: sanitization efforts sufficient to prevent the transmission of surface-to-human infections, droplet protection for sanitized utensils and dinner ware, droplet protection for foods and condiments, and caution signage that advises and informs users of the risks in utilizing the food service, i.e., increased human contact and increased risk of infection.

Handling of money: It is the responsibility of government facilities to accept traditional monetary method of payment employed by citizens. Traditional methods are checks, money orders, cash, credit cards, and e-technologies that represent the traditional methods. The Infection Control Committee is charged with reducing the infection risk associated with each type of payment.

Childcare for Employees: It’s the responsibility of the employee to provide safe custody and care for his/her children during normal business hours. The supervisor of the department may grant, upon request and suitability, flexible hours and flexible work conditions to employees with safe-childcare obstacles.

Closure of childcare facilities present such an obstacle. Supervisors are not required to provide alternatives to childcare obstacles but are requested to be flexible where possible.

The closure of schools does not present an obstacle to safe childcare. It is common for schools to close for three months of the year and to have specific dates in which schools are closed while a government facility is open. These are standard closures under normal conditions for parents to problem solve their childcare needs. The COVID-19 crisis does not require additional childcare mitigation.

State of Wisconsin seeks more election control

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.