A state lawmaker is hoping to make it easier for local clerks to find poll workers, and for political parties to get their members working at those locations on Election Day.
Current state law limits poll workers to serving in their home municipality, which state Representative Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) says often makes it harder for clerks to fill those positions. The Hartford Republican is sponsoring a bill that would allow election officials to work anywhere in their home county instead, which he says would gives clerks a “much larger pool of potential poll workers.”
The bill is raising concerns though because of a provision that allows political parties to nominate officials to work in specific wards. Currently, parties can nominate poll workers, but where they work is up to the local clerk.
Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy told a Capitol hearing Tuesday that many individuals put on those lists often don’t want to serve. He says many either blame the location they are being sent to or decline to undergo the required training to be a poll worker.
Pridemore says the change is meant to ensure equal representation at polling places for both parties, especially in areas where one party has a stronger presence. However, Democrats and some municipal clerks argue it could inject partisanship into the electoral process. Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association President Vikki Zuehlke also noted that election observers typically fill the role of overseeing Election Day proceedings to watch for possible voting irregularities.
The bill is currently being considered by an Assembly committee.