Legislation moving Wisconsin’s fall partisan primaries to the second Tuesday in August is on the fast track at the Capitol, and some local clerks are voicing concern over the change. State Senator Mary Lazich, explained that the change is required in order to comply with the federal MOVE Act. “We not only want to do that, I think we’re all very enthused to be sure that our soldiers far from home have their vote in and have their voted counted,” said Lazich. She conceded that the second Tuesday in may not be ideal. “I think August second isn’t the delight of everyone, but I don’t know that it’s the enemy of all, either.”
“The second Tuesday in August is probably your outside date in order to assure that we’re not going to have issues with the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the state Government Accountability Board. “The main thing we’re looking at is that there are at least 45 days of absentee ballot transit time before the election.” A recommendation from the GAB includes 47 days for absentee ballot transit. “Just to give you an example, in the last election we had a request for an absentee ballot,” explained Sherri Endrus, Clerk-Treasurer for the Dane County Town of Springfield. “It only had to go from the Waunakuee post office to the Middleton post office. It took over twelve days to get it there.” Endres and Diane Herman-Brown, Sun Prairie City Clerk and President of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, raised concerns with the bill. “The local election officials who met with the GAB staff made a recommendation that the partisan primary be held the third or fourth Tuesday of July,” said Herman-Brown.
Senate and Assembly elections committees held a joint public hearing on the bill on Thursday, as well as a second measure which would move the state’s presidential primary back to early April from its current date in mid-February.