In the wake of conversations with Government Accountability Board staff members which he said yielded "unsatisfactory results," Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court. The suit seeks to compel the board into compliance with state and federal election law.
The root of Van Hollen's concern stems from the failure of the GAB to bring a statewide computerized system on-line, in compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, until August, some eight months after a January st deadline. Because of the delay, Van Hollen says the GAB has decided not to run a so-called "HAVA check" on new voters who registered by mail since January First. In Wisconsin, such a check would consist of comparing the information received by the G.A.B. with information contained within the database of licensed drivers at the state Department of Transportation.
The A.G. says the lack of such cross referencing means that the statewide computerized voter registration list required by HAVA includes thousands, if not tens of thousands, of names whose information has not been verified through the HAVA checks mandated by Congress and required by state law. Van Hollen says those names will remain on the list during the presidential election, with a significant risk, if not a certainty, that unlawful votes will be cast and counted, unless the GAB. takes action.
In an August 28th letter to Van Hollen, GAB. Director Kevin Kennedy stated that the majority of inconsistencies in voter registration information can be tied to typographical errors, voters using nicknames, or a missing middle initial or middle name. He said that if the board used such discrepancies to challenge the right to vote in November, some 20,000 voters could be disenfranchised, or forced to cast provisional ballots.
Kennedy wrote that since August 6th, the board has been able to cross check the voter list information with the D.O.T. database, but rejected a request to immediately expand that matching effort to every voter registered since January 1st. Kennedy stated that such action would be "premature and could lead to mass confusion at the polls."
In the suit, Van Hollen states that it is widely anticipated that Wisconsin will be a "swing state" in the presidential election, and that it's ten electoral votes may be won by a very narrow margin, and that therefore the GAB and its members must insure that all votes are cast by eligible voters only.