Attorney General Says Election Bill Makes Fraud More Likely

MacIver News Service – [Madison, Wisc.] The Wisconsin Attorney General believes fast-tracked legislation that would make significant changes to Wisconsin election law would actually make vote fraud more likely.

A Republican, JB Van Hollen also believes the proposal would have a chilling effect on free speech.

He sent a letter expressing his concerns to the Democrat and Republican leaders of the Legislature Wednesday.

“I write today to express my concerns with portions of Assembly Bill 895/Senate Bill 640 which attempt to change various sections of existing election law,” the letter begins. ““[I]t is not clear to me what problems this reform is trying to address.”

Van Hollen notes several problems with the plan which is on the legislative fast track:

  • It makes changes to the voter registration law, yet registering to vote is easy under current law.
  • It populates the registration list with unregistered voters, increasing the potential for fraud, when our desire should be to have an accurate list that is neither over inclusive nor under inclusive.
  • It limits the ability of electors to challenge the qualifications of others – yet all a challenged elector must do to overcome the challenge is orally affirm his or her qualifications and there is no evidence this procedure is denying any lawful elector the right to vote.
  • It creates new crimes and civil causes of action, making the courtroom as central to an election as the polling place, thus jeopardizing the orderly administration of elections and chilling lawful and protected speech.

Assembly Bill 895 and Senate Bill 640, were first made public on March 24th.  By April 1st both bills had public hearings and were passed out of committee on Democrat party-line votes.  Last week the plan was approved by the Joint Finance Committee, again with only the support of Democrats.

Floor votes in the Assembly and Senate could happen next Tuesday.

Van Hollen said his opposition to this bill does not mean he believes the state’s voter registration and election laws are perfect.

“But the changes proposed in this bill neither enhance the right to vote nor protect against fraud,” Van Hollen wrote.  “Instead, they make election fraud more likely, chill the lawful exercise of speech that is at the core of the First Amendment, and jeopardize the orderly administration of election laws.”