February 10, 2016

GAB responds to voter fraud claims

The head of the state Government Accountability Board is taking issue with claims of voter fraud in Racine, and asking Republican lawmakers to stop “promoting unsupported allegations.”

Earlier this week, GOP legislative leaders sent to the GAB voicing concerns about what they called an “utter mockery of the system.” The letter was based on claims of ballot bag tampering, unsigned poll books, and improperly processed voter registrations during the recall election in the 21st state Senate District.

Agency Director Kevin Kennedy responded Friday, saying there’s a lack of evidence to support many of those claims. In a letter to lawmakers, Kennedy says “unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud tend to unnecessarily undermine the confidence” of voters.

Kennedy also took the opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding several aspects of Republicans’ complaints.

For example, he says a ballot bag was resealed in a new bag by election officials after being opened for legitimate reasons, and was not tampered with. Also, those who did not sign poll books included voters who registered on Election Day, which means clerks had their signatures on voter registration cards.

As for other issues, such as one voter being allowed to register with improper proof of residency, Kennedy says such errors fall on poll workers. He notes that state law offers no penalties for such clerical errors and removing any ballots because of them would only serve to disenfranchise voters.

Racine County election officials have defended the mistakes as simple procedural errors. Kennedy says the GAB will work to make sure local clerks and poll workers are properly trained for future elections.

Republicans responded to the letter from Kennedy, saying they appreciate that the agency is aware of the problems and working to address them. However, lawmakers also noted that they plan to come back next session “to correct the problems that have been discovered and restore the integrity of our election process.”

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