Milw. Elections Commission Slow to Respond to Observers’ Complaints

[Milwaukee, Wisc…] Early voting started this week and, already, election observers in Milwaukee have brought possible violations of elections law to the attention of poll workers. However, those complaints have not made their way to the Milwaukee Elections Commission’s front office.

“No one has presented me or our office with a written incident report,” Theresa Gabriel, the commission’s deputy director, told the MacIver News Service on Wednesday.

On Tuesday an election observer noticed some suspicious activity..

“A woman dressed in a red sweat suit had a slip of paper with names written on it. She entered the voting area and marked her ballot referring to the slip of paper,” according to an internal write up of the incident shown to the MacIver News Service. “Then she went to three other booths to instruct others on how to fill out their ballot. After they marked their ballot she then held up their ballot to her ballot to make sure that the marks matched,” the observer wrote.

The poll watcher informed the chief elections inspector at the Zeidler building of the concern and describes what happened next.

“I approached the election inspector (Phyliss) to point out this problem. The woman in the red sweat suit said she was helping her mother so Phyliss walked away. I also told the CEI and pointed out her the woman who was assisting. The CEI went up to her and spoke with her. She did not require her to as sign an assistor,” the report reads.

Gabriel was not familiar with this incident until hearing about it from MNS. She said complaints of that nature are usually handled on site without formal follow up.

“When anyone approaches me when I’m at the poling location I address issues on the spot as I’m able to,” she said. “We don’t do this formally. We have discussions at night and talk about how the day went and what we can do to improve.”

The commission is splitting its time between conducting the early voting and preparing for the actual election day.

“As you can imagine it’s very busy so we don’t have time to write up every incident,” Gabriel said. “Only if an incident rises to the extent where there’s a little more involved in addressing it.”

Not speaking specifically about the “woman in the red sweat suit,” Gabriel said it is common to see people helping out elderly relatives. When poll workers see that, they make the person sign the bottom of the ballot as an assistor.

“It it’s something systemic…. Like if there’s a driver bringing people in and is assisting every voter, we’ll address it,” she said.