A state audit released late last week highlighted a long list of issues at the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin’s election and ethics laws. Those issues included staff failing to mandated checks for felons voting in a timely manner and the inconsistent enforcement of campaign finance violations.
Republican leaders are already calling for changes at the agency and have vowed to introduce legislation next spring overhauling the GAB. However, many Democrats are urging a more careful approach that gives the agency time to fix the issues directly identified in the audit.
State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) says it would be unfortunate if Republicans used the audit as an excuse to take partisan-motivated action against the GAB, especially since the agency is “committed to taking the suggestions made by the audit bureau seriously, and are working to implement many of them already.”
The Madison Democrat, who sits on the Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee, also notes that the GAB has seen a dramatic jump in its workload in recent years because of recall elections and the ongoing battle over the state’s voter ID requirement. She says the reaction to staffing issues should not be to pull the carpet out from under the GAB, adding that it would be unfortunate if audits are used to “politicize the work of our agencies.”