MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Elections Commission is pleased to report to the Legislature this week that it has fully implemented many of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s recommendations to improve election administration and that the six-member, bi-partisan Commission has considered all 30 recommendations in public meetings.
The WEC on Thursday submitted a report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee updating Committee lawmakers on the Commission’s progress in implementing the recommendations provided in the LAB’s October report.
“The Elections Commission takes the Audit Bureau’s recommendations seriously,” said WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe. “The six-member, bi-partisan Commission has come together to consider and to implement recommendations that will further improve the electoral process in our state.”
The WEC considered all the LAB’s recommendations and has implemented recommendations including:
- In addition to an existing detailed process to identify duplicate voter registrations, the WEC has implemented an additional nightly check to identify potential duplicate driver license and state identification card numbers in the statewide voter registration database.
- The Commission provided additional clerk training on the requirement to initial absentee ballot certificate envelopes; ballot processing; pre-election tests of electronic voting equipment; reviewing of Election Day forms and investigating relevant issues; and post-election data entry of election statistics into the statewide voter registration system.
- The Commission contacted voting machine vendors alerting them to the importance of training on resolving paper jams.
- The Commission found that, through its data sharing agreement, it is fully compliant with the statutory requirement that the WEC obtain signatures of voters who register to vote online from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
- The Commission published a calendar of when the Commission obtains information from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to further demonstrate how Wisconsin uses this data to maintain accurate voter rolls.
- The Commission contacted municipal officials where the clerk for that jurisdiction failed to take and report required training hours for the 2020-2021 training term.
The LAB recommended the Commission update several administrative rules, as well as create some new ones. The Commission has begun the rule promulgation process for nearly all of these, including holding public hearings where required.
In response to the LAB’s recommendations on administrative rules, the Commission has, among other actions:
- Directed WEC staff to write a scope statement for an emergency rule adhering to the Commission’s 2016 guidance on completing missing witness address information on absentee ballot certificate envelopes. This scope statement received approval from the governor and the proposed rule is currently in the drafting stage.
- Directed WEC staff to write scope statements for permanent rules related to polling place emergency planning and certification and training of municipal clerks. The scope statements received approval from the governor, staff held a preliminary hearing to receive comments concerning the proposed rules, and the Commission can soon formally approve the scope statements and begin the drafting stage.
In 2017, the Commission attempted to approve two administrative rules that were later recommended by the LAB in its 2021 audit. However, the 2017 rules did not receive approval later in the administrative rules process.
Those administrative rules related to the content of training provided to election inspectors and special voting deputies, and to electronic voting equipment and software security. The Commission directed staff to create scope statements for both rules, and both were recently approved by the governor and will be published in the Administrative Register.
The Commission reminded lawmakers that LAB’s audit report misrepresented some aspects of elections administration, particularly regarding the Commission’s collection of ERIC data that helps maintain accurate voter rolls.
The Commission has been fully compliant with all ERIC membership requirements. Since Wisconsin joined ERIC, the Commission has facilitated updating or deactivating over one million voter records.