The Government Accountability Board will take another look at recent policy decisions regarding the use of student ID cards for voting and how election petitions can be distributed. Lawmakers on Thursday were set to order the GAB to create emergency rules on the issues, but state Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and others on the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules decided against a vote.
The move came after agency officials agreed to make changes when the board meets next month. Vukmir says alternative proposals offered by the GAB satisfied their concerns.
The petition policy was the result of a request to the GAB to clarify whether website generated recall petitions, with voter addresses already filled in, are acceptable. The Board initially ruled there was little difference between that method and current practices when it voted to accept them. However, Republicans worried the change would allow groups to send out pre-printed recall petitions for voters to just sign and send back. Concerns were also raised that it could open the door to massive fraud in gathering petition signatures.
GAB director Kevin Kennedy says the board will consider a change that requires some interaction between the circulator and the signer and will also prevent third party groups from just using lists to send out mass mailings to gather signatures.
The sticker policy was adopted by GAB as a means of helping universities make student ID cards acceptable for voting under the Voter ID law approved earlier this year. Republicans worried about a lack of standards for the stickers and the potential for fraud.
Kennedy says they will alter the policy so the stickers will only be used for students placing a signature on a student ID card. However, he also noted that many universities they contacted have no plans to use stickers at all and are exploring other ways to comply with the law.
Democrats offered criticism for the reversals, saying it basically means majority Republicans can bully the GAB in to changing policies they are unhappy with. State Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) says Kennedy essentially came back to the JCRAR with his “tail between his legs.”
Kennedy denied they were bowing to criticism from the GOP. He says the reversal is the result of the review process for any decision made by the elections agency and the board has a responsibility to explain its actions.
Still, Hebl is proposing a bill that would insulate the GAB from the administrative rule process in the future. He says the change is needed to keep them from being bullied into reversing policy decisions.