Wisconsin election threats

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Voter registration

This section details threats to voters from and problems with the state's voter registration system.

Verification, database and rejection

  • Common Cause rated this as "inconclusive," citing, "After experiencing diffi culties, statewide database id in compliance with HAVA; voter information can now be cross-checked against databases of other state agencies including transportation, corrections, and health services."[1]
  • Common Cause rated this as "unsatisfactory," citing, "A provisional ballot is counted if the voter provides the election authority with his/her driver’s license number, either in person or via telephone, fax, or email before 4:00pm on the day after the election. The voter can only provide his/her driver’s license number; SSN or first four digits of SSN will not be accepted."[1]

Notification and appeal

  • Common Cause rated Wisconsin's registration notification system as "mixed," citing, "Voter registrations by mail, special registration, or on Election Day are verified by a registration notice within ten days of receipt of the registration form; registration will be rejected if the confirmation notice is returned “undeliverable”. If registration form has insufficient information for registration, the clerk will notify the voter within 5 days."[1]

3rd party registration

NVRA implementation

Student voting rights

Voter education

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on voter education, how to vote, information on elections, etc.

  • Common Cause rated Wisconsin's provisional ballot information as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Government Accountability Board Website, under “Information for Voters with Disabilities,” has a FAQ that explains when provisional ballots are used for first-time voters and what follow-up is required by those voters."[1]

Absentee and early voting

This section details problems with and threats to the state's absentee and early voting system.

  • September 12, 2008. Allegations that the McCain campaign mailed faulty absentee ballot applications to Wisconsin Democrats. These applications have incorrect city clerk addresses for the voter to send the application to, which could result in the voter being knocked off the voter rolls.[2][3]

Voter suppression and intimidation

This section details problems and threats involving fraud, intimidation and suppression efforts.

Deceptive practices laws

Voter caging, purging and other eligibility challenges

  • Common Cause rated this as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Election inspectors and other electors may challenge any person they believe is not eligible to vote. Challenges can be made at the polling place."[1]
  • October 26, 2008. A judge threw out a lawsuit brought by the co-Chair of the McCain campaign that would have forced the state to double-check voter registrations going back two years. If this were allowed it "would throw hundreds of thousands of registrations into doubt, possibly creating a post-election ballot-counting frenzy such as that seen in Florida after the 2000 presidential election." From the report, "The lawsuit sought to force the accountability board to order local clerks to check hundreds of thousands of voter registrations since January 2006 against state driver, death and felon databases to ensure accuracy and comply with the federal Help America Vote Act. The suit also sought to purge ineligible voters from the rolls."[4]
  • September 13, 2008. The Wisconsin Attorney General - co-chair of John McCain's campaign in Wisconsin - has filed a lawsuit that could result in thousands of voters being purged from registration lists if their names do not exactly match drivers license records. Since Wisconsin allows voters to register on election day, this will cause very long lines at the polls.[5][6]
Main article: Voter roll purges

Voter intimidation and deception

  • October 31, 2008. Wisconsin's attorney general, after his lawsuit to force election officials to verify all new voter registrations, is dispatching more than 33 agents and 19 assistant attorneys general to polling places to observe voters.[7] The Governor called the plan part of a partisan ploy. Van Hollen previously admitted that Republican Party operatives had pressured his office to intervene in the electoral process.[8]

"In the majority of instances, we will observe. If the persons (agents) believe there is something that should be brought to the attention of the poll workers consistent with the observer rules, we will bring that to the attention of the poll workers," explained Deputy Attorney General Raymond Taffora. [9] In response to complaints about the poll observers, "Van Hollen pointed out that four years ago his predecessor -- Peg Lautenschlager, a Democrat -- fielded about 40 poll watchers. She claimed they were dispatched to make sure voters who wanted to vote could do so without being harassed, a common Democratic refrain." [10]

Polling places and voting

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on election practices, polling places, workers, providing election equipment, etc.

Poll worker training, recruitment and distribution

Voter ID requirements

Polling place accessibility and wait times

Voting machine and ballot distribution

Malfunctioning voting machinery

  • For an extensive log of voting machine problems, see the VotersUnite! report on election incidents.[11]

Ballot design

Provisional ballots

This section lists past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on provisional ballots. Particularly, what are the state's criteria for receiving a provisional ballot (including voting in the wrong precinct) and its procedures for verifying eligibility and then including those votes in the totals.


Eligibility verification

Ballots cast in wrong precinct

  • Common Cause rated this as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Provisional ballots are not given to voters who appear at the wrong polling place."[1]

Vote verification and security

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on vote verification and security.

Voting machine verification and security

Vote tabulation procedures

Recount procedures

Chain of custody of ballots and e-voting equipment

Election public official issues

Premature media race calling

Vote result challenge procedures

Articles and resources

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Common Cause chart of election issues in Wisconsin, part of the "Voting in 2008: 10 Swing States," a Common Cause report released September 16, 2008. The areas looked at include: voter registration, voter identification, caging and challenges, deceptive practices, provisional ballots, voting machine allocation, poll worker recruitment and training, voter education and student voting rights.
  2. Mark Pitsch, McCain's mailer creates controversy, Wisconsin State Journal, September 12, 2008.
  3. This incident report originated the Voter Suppression Wiki.
  4. "Van Hollen case tossed: Judge's decision may ease lines for voters," The Dunn County News, October 26, 2008.
  5. Celeste Headlee, "Wisconsin Battles Over Voter Registration," NPR, October 8, 2008.
  6. Steven Rosenfeld, GOP Voter Suppression Comes to Wisconsin," Alternet, September 13, 2008.
  7. "Wisconsin AG to dispatch agents to supervise election," Legal Newsline.com, October 30, 23008.
  8. "Election Matters: Doyle, Van Hollen fight about Election Day," The Capital Times, October 31, 2008. This story refers readers to the following YouTube video: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzxPDZN1dd8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzxPDZN1dd8.]
  9. "AG's Plan For Poll Watchers Draws Criticism From Dems," Channel 3000 (Madison, Wisconsin), November 1, 2008.
  10. Steven Elbow, "[ Thousands of poll monitors will oversee voting sites]," The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin), November 4, 2008.
  11. This past problem and description are from the VotersUnite! Election Problem Log. Click through for included links to origin of report.

External resources

Poll location

Election Protection hotlines

Voting information

Voting rights

Voting requirements

Election officials, election reform groups, and elected officials

Absentee voting

Disabled voters

Student voting rights

State ballot

  • See how organizations you trust recommend you vote on ballot measures and other statewide contests at TransparentDemocracy.


  • Help in other languages from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 中文, 日本語, 한국어, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt, Español

Voting machines

External articles