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Elections Commission weighs how to implement constitutional amendment • Wisconsin Examiner

The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Tuesday discussed how it’s going to help election clerks across the state implement a constitutional amendment passed this spring that limits who is allowed to work with election materials. 

The amendment, passed in April, states that no one other than an election official may help in the administration of an election. Commissioners said during the meeting that they’ve received questions from clerks about how that applies to election functions such as the printing of ballots — which is generally done by outside printing companies. 

The state Department of Justice is also in the process of gathering public comments for an Attorney General’s opinion on the issue, but commissioners said they want to be able to help clerks know how to follow the law this fall. Commission Chair Don Millis suggested instructing staff to create a scope statement to begin the process of creating an administrative rule guiding the implementation of the amendment. 

But the rulemaking process can take more than a year. Commissioner Robert Spindell said that if clerks aren’t clear on what they should do in November, the 1,850 clerks across the state will make varying decisions, which could invite complaints following the election. 

“I think we need to start thinking about some of the guidance that we’re probably going to have to put forward prior to the election if we’re going to have any effect on the election,” Spindell said. “Because I’m afraid that clerks are going to come up with different thoughts and their city attorneys’ different thoughts, in terms of what they can’t do.” 

Commissioner Ann Jacobs called the rulemaking process “byzantine” and also said clerks will need guidance this year. 

Ultimately, the body unanimously voted for agency staff to begin the rulemaking process and begin drafting guidance for clerks to use in this year’s elections. 

On Tuesday, the commission also moved forward a number of proposed new administrative rules. The rules will guide the procedures on challenges to nomination papers and declarations of candidacy, requiring polling places to have emergency plans and the instructions given to absentee voters. 

The commission also scheduled its meetings for deciding which candidates will gain access to the ballot this summer and approved ballot designs for elections this fall. But the commission almost immediately had to reconsider those ballot designs after Gov. Tony Evers scheduled special elections for the vacant 8th Congressional District and 4th state Senate District. 

In the 4th District, the special election will be held July 30. If a primary is needed that election will be held July 2. 

Voters in the 8th District, where a U.S. House seat was left vacant after the resignation of U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, will be voting in a special election for someone to serve the remainder of Gallagher’s term in November, on the same day they’re voting for who will hold the seat in the next congressional session. 

Those ballots will need to have the 8th district on the ballot twice, and the candidates running for the seat will also have to collect two sets of signatures for nomination papers.

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originally published at https%3A%2F%2Fwisconsinexaminer.com%2Fbriefs%2Felections-commission-weighs-how-to-implement-constitutional-amendment%2F by Henry Redman

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