Wed October 24, 2012
GAB Upholds Current Election Observer Regulations
Wisconsin's elections agency has rejected a push to let election observers get closer to voters on election day.
The Government Accountability Board's decision means observers watching the polls will have to stay at least six feet away from voters. While that policy is not new, the Republican Party and others have scrutinized it recently because of the board's decision to let voters use electronic documents on their smart phones to register at the polls on election day.
Attorney Rick Essenberg told the board the public has a right to see what's going on, "That means not simply a superficial observation that election officials seem to be doing what they're supposed to be doing or are trying to do what they're supposed to be doing but in fact they can see the voting transaction. They can see the type of identifying documents that are being tendered."
But Government Accountability Board Elections Specialist David Buerger says allowing that kind of access could make long lines for same-day registration even longer, "It would bring the process to a standstill at voter registration, I think. Because if observers need to have that level of access and we have to provide protection to the confidential information, that's going to take time."
Buerger says letting observers see every detail of an electronic document on someone's cell phone would be a violation of a voter's rights. The board voted 5-1 to keep its current restrictions on observers in place.