Election Laws Need an Overhaul, Wisc. Case in Point

-By Warner Todd Huston

There is no doubt that our election laws are in serious disarray. So many laws and rules have been written and added to the plethora of rules and regulations that already exist that confusion is more likely the case than clarification. As several recall petitions in Wisconsin wing their way to a polling place near you (if you're a Badger Stater), a case in point is a stupid Wisconsin rule that equates to the disenfranchisement of individual voters should things get dicey at the polling place.

Tucked away in chapter seven of the election officials duties publication from the State of Wisconsin is a rule that would essentially take away the legal vote of some undetermined number of voters if the polling place discovers that its vote count is higher than its number of registered voters in the poll book. The idea is that if there are too many votes then the poll judges will "draw... by chance the number of ballots equal to the excess number" and put these votes aside. These votes will not count, either. That means that supposedly by random, some citizens will lose their vote because somehow or another the ballot box was stuffed with too many illicit votes!

Stupid, isn't it? I mean this leaves the ballot box open to so much game playing. What if some *unnamed* party decides to stuff the ballot box and then *cough* accidentally removes the votes from voters of the other party from the ballot box to make the number of votes equal the registered lists?

Think that can't happen? Been to Chicago lately?

Of course, the reason this absurd "random" removal of votes fix was created is because Wisconsin did not have voter ID laws where it is known that any particular vote was made by a registered voter.

Wisconsin isn't the only place that stupid laws like this exist, of course. Every state has goofy provisions like this somewhere in its code. We need a top to bottom review of our election laws in each and every state. We need to institute voter ID laws and we need to trim from the rules the really stupid provisions like this one in Wisconsin.

Here is the section in question:

SUBCHAPTER II
CANVASS OF RETURNS AND CERTIFICATION
7.51 Local board of canvassers.

(e) Except in municipalities where absentee ballots are canvassed under s. 7.52, if after any ballots have been laid aside, the number of ballots still exceeds the total number of electors recorded on the poll list, the inspectors shall separate the absentee ballots from the other ballots. If there is an excess number of absentee ballots, the inspectors shall place the absentee ballots in the ballot box and one of the inspectors shall publicly and without examination draw therefrom by chance the number of ballots equal to the excess number of absentee ballots. If there is an excess number of nonabsentee ballots, the inspectors shall place those ballots in the ballot box and one of the inspectors shall publicly and without examination draw therefrom by chance the number of ballots equal to the excess number of those ballots. All ballots so removed may not be counted but shall be specially marked as having been removed by the inspectors on original canvass due to an excess number of ballots, set aside and preserved. When the number of ballots and total shown on the poll list agree, the inspectors shall return all ballots to be counted to the ballot box and shall turn the ballot box in such manner as to thoroughly mix the ballots. The inspectors shall then open, count and record the number of votes. When the ballots are counted, the inspectors shall separate them into piles for ballots similarly voted. Objections may be made to placemen.

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