September 18, 2014

Republicans detail concerns over ballot redesign

Vos, Fitzgerald

Vos, Fitzgerald

The campaigns of two Republican Legislative leaders have filed suit, over the redesigning of ballots for the November elections. The new ballots have no lines separating the offices and the first candidate.

“I think the assumption would almost be, by the voter, that somehow that’s the incumbent, or somehow the ballot is limited to just one candidate for that office. It’s definitely confusing,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. “If you look at the old ballot, which I thought was very clear and very well done, it had kind of a dark black box that identified the office, and then below that the candidates. That’s gone now.”

The newly designed ballot was adopted by the state Government Accountability Board, under a process which Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called “slipshod at best.”

“They did not consul with the Legislature. They did not consult with their own board. They had very limited contact with clerks, who are directly responsible for the elections and making sure that ballots are out to voters,” Vos said. “We didn’t even realize this was happening until last week, because of no public hearings, no opportunity for input, and now in one of the most important races in our state’s history, they’re changing the entire ballot design.”

With less than 50 days to go before the elections, the suit by Vos and Fitzgerald are seeking to force a return to the ballots used for the past twenty years. The two held a press conference at state Republican Party headquarters to discuss the legal action.

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy defended the design on Tuesday. Kennedy said GAB staff dedicate themselves to being “fair and impartial.” But he added that even he had some concerns with the design. “I have quibbles with the way some of the things came out, but I don’t think the issue that’s been presented is anything other than something to gin up a lot of partisan activity on this,” Kennedy said.

Race for Wisconsin governor remains a dead heat

Burke, Walker

Mary Burke, Scott Walker

With less than seven weeks to go before the election, the race for governor in Wisconsin remains a dead heat. According to the latest Marquette University Law School Poll released on Wednesday, Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke were tied 46-46 percent among registered voters in the state. Among likely voters, Walker held a slight lead at 49-46.

The poll of 800 registered voters and 589 likely voters was done by phone, between September 11th and 14th. The margin of error for the poll was between +/- 3.5 and 4.1 percent.

In the last Marquette poll released in August, Walker held a slight lead over Burke among registered voters, while Burke had the edge among likely voters. Poll director Charles Franklin says the slight shift is likely a result of Republicans becoming more enthused and engaged in recent weeks. He says those numbers will likely become more important as we draw closer to the November 4th election, noting that “Elections are about both candidate preference and turnout, changes in either can shift elections.”

The race for attorney general has also tightened up significantly. Democrat Susan Happ led Republican Brad Schimel 39-38 percent among registered voters, while Schimel leads 42-41 among likely voters.

Among other findings from the poll, voters continued to forgive Walker for only creating 40 percent of the 250,000 private sector jobs he promised. Only 29 percent of registered voters said reaching the goal was very important. The state’s financial picture is better than it was a few years ago, according to 41 percent of voters, while 27 percent said it was worse.

Voter ID continued to have strong support among voters, with 65 percent of respondents supporting a requirement for voters to show a government-issued photo ID card at the polls and 35 percent opposing the requirement. Franklin says those findings have been relatively consistent over the seven polls where the question has appeared since 2012. The latest poll was in the middle of being conducted when a federal court lifted an injunction blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement.

Teen Assembly candidate ends campaign over social media comments

Jacob Dorsey

Jacob Dorsey

The Republican candidate in Wisconsin’s 44th Assembly District announced Tuesday that he is withdrawing from the race.

The move comes after 19-year-old Jacob Dorsey drew fire over an anti-gay message he posted on Twitter almost a year ago. Dorsey apologized last week for making the “hurtful” comment, although other potentially offensive posts he made to social media sites were later found.

Dorsey says he regrets the comments, which he claims were made by a child he no longer considers himself to be. He has since deleted his Twitter account

His name will still be on the ballot in November, although Dorsey says he is ending his campaign against incumbent Democratic state Representative Deb Kolste of Janesville.


GOP sues GAB over ballot design

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

Republicans file suit against the Government Accountability Board over a newly-designed ballot slated for use in the November general election. The lawsuit argues the new ballot format unfairly favors Democrats and will confuse voters.

Kevin Kennedy with the GAB says it’s not unusual to have a ballot change — or to have someone object to that change. Even he has some “quibbles” with the final design, but at some point, he says, one has to draw the line. “So there’s always ballot challenges. On one level, the fact that someone is raising a question is not unusual.” However, he says, “The fact that someone attributes any partisan motivation to the staff of the GAB is where I would use the term that it’s absurd.”

The day before the lawsuit was filed Kennedy defended the design, saying GAB staff dedicate themselves to being “fair and impartial.” He told reporters in Madison, the staff is looking for the best ballot design. “They’re not perfect; they’re not experts,” he says, “I have quibbles with the way some of the things came out, but I don’t think the issue that’s been presented is anything other than something to gin up a lot of partisan activity on this.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told talk show host Charlie Sykes on Milwaukee’s WTMJ this morning the new ballot design would “clearly benefit the Democrats right before the election.” He said it’s part of a bigger “subliminal” and “intrusive” strategy. Vos added, “Democrats are looking for any advantage they can, even if it is small or slight, to be able to get their candidates elected.”

Republicans want a declaration that the new ballot violates state law, a ban on a requirement that local clerks use that new GAB-approved ballot template, and an order for the GAB to tell municipal clerks to use the old design. Kennedy estimates it would cost “several hundred thousand dollars” to redesign and print new ballots.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) filed the lawsuit Wednesday morning in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Erpenbach assails Walker drug testing plan

Erpenbach WRN file photo

Erpenbach WRN file photo

There’s some criticism for the governor’s drug testing plan. Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to require drug testing for adults getting unemployment and food stamps is drawing fire from at least one Democratic lawmaker.

“You really have to take a look at why that proposal would even be there,” said state Senator Jon Erpenbach of Middleton. “It might sound good to someone, until they lose a job and have to go urinate in a cup to get food stamps.”

Erpenbach believes the proposal would do nothing to create jobs and could end up costing the state money. “This is an expensive proposal in the name of job creation, which won’t create a single job. If you’re going to do this, how are you going to pay for it?”

If elected to a second term, Walker wants to require drug testing for childless adults requesting unemployment and food stamps. They’d also be required to participate in employment training or part-time work. “Our economy is hurting here in the state of Wisconsin, and the governor wants to drug test someone who’s just lost their job in order to get their food stamps,” Erpenbach said.