GOP legislative leaders have asked the Republican co-chairs of JCRAR to halt efforts by the Wisconsin Elections Commission to continue allowing clerks to fill in missing information on absentee ballot envelopes.
The commission in 2016 unanimously approved telling clerks they could address deficiencies in absentee ballot envelopes. But the issue has become a flash point for Republicans after Donald Trump’s narrow loss to Joe Biden in 2020 as voters cast nearly 1.4 million absentee ballots by mail.
Yesterday’s request from Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August comes as absentee ballots for the Aug. 9 primary have already been sent to voters.
A spokesperson for JCRAR Co-chair Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, told WisPolitics.com the committee will meet next week to suspend the rule.
The Elections Commission was unsure of the implications of having different standards for absentee ballots processed for the August primary.
Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley, D-Town of Mason, knocked the move to prevent clerks from fixing what she said were minor issues in the addresses of those who witness absentee ballots.
“Seems as if there’s no limit to how far my Republican colleagues will go to try and stop other people’s votes from counting,” she said.
The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules last year directed the commission to cease providing the guidance or establish it through the emergency rule process. The commission then voted 4-2 in January to continue the existing guidance in the emergency rule, a process that gives the GOP-controlled JCRAR authority over it.
According to the letter, a commission attorney on Wednesday notified JCRAR of a newly promulgated emergency rule. The framework for the proposal states it will “define what constitutes a complete address, mandate that clerks take corrective measures to try and remedy address insufficiencies, detail what clerks are lawfully able to self-correct, outline how clerks should perform outreach to voters and witnesses, allow for the return of the certificate for correction, and specify when voters or witnesses must appear to correct the certificate in person.”
The three lawmakers wrote WEC didn’t cite any explicit statutory authority allowing it to issue a rule covering those issues.
“Orderly, consistent, lawful elections are crucial for Wisconsin,” the three Republicans wrote.
Read the letter here.