A former Trump campaign attorney today told an Assembly committee the U.S. Constitution allows state legislatures to pass presidential election laws without input from the governor.
A Leg Council attorney, however, told the committee all bills Wisconsin lawmakers pass are subject to gubernatorial review.
Thomas Sylke, an attorney who worked for the Trump campaign during the Milwaukee recount, suggested the language of the Constitution saying how states may pick presidential electors means state lawmakers have sole discretion on how to conduct presidential elections within state boundaries. He spoke during an Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee public hearing.
“There’s no indication it requires the approval of the governor or any other body,” he said on such bills. “Yes, I do believe this Legislature can pass laws without the governor’s signature required.”
Some Trump backers had raised the issue of legislative authority over election procedures and results in various unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn state results.
After a request for clarification by Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, Leg Council said the agency would have to look into it, but that all bills lawmakers pass are subject to review by the guv.
Republicans during the public hearing again argued a series of bills making changes to election law would promote more statewide consistency in the voting process.
But Spreitzer said many of the bills were either redundant or could lead to voter intimidation by partisan election observers.
One such bill, AB 170, would expand the election observation area for both recounts and general elections to no more than 3 feet from the table where voters announce their name and address and provide poll workers a photo ID.
Sylke during the hearing dismissed suggestions the bill wouldn’t allow enough room for social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said the stairs at his local library are “probably more dangerous” than the novel coronavirus when it comes to the personal safety of voters on an election day.
Spreitzer said the bill if passed may allow observers to intimidate voters or poll workers by standing so close. He also said he had concerns the observers may be able to read sensitive information from voters’ photo IDs.
“If we’re talking about somebody there casting a ballot in person, what are you hoping they’ll see?” he asked bill author Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc. “Are you hoping they can read their driver’s license number? Why do I need to be within 3 feet?”
Tittl said his bill wouldn’t lead to voter intimidation as it still permits the secret ballot and only changes where observers may stand around poll workers and not the polling booth.
Ahead of the public hearing, the committee passed along partisan lines AB 173, which would ban local governments from applying for or receiving private donations for election administration.
All other bills lawmakers considered today passed with unanimous approval. They include:
*AB 51, which requires public notice when incumbents file for noncandidacy.
*AB 94, which clarifies that pupils enrolled in home-based private education programs may serve as election inspectors.
*AB 172, which requires the Elections Commission to publish its draft meeting minutes within 24 hours and its approved minutes within 48 hours after any meeting.
Watch the hearing.