by Benjamin Yount
It is going to be another scolding for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules will meet on Wednesday to consider new rules for ballot curing.
Curing is when local election clerks fill in missing information on ballots, rather than toss them aside as incomplete. The Election Commission’s guidance says clerks can add that information without contacting the voter.
Lawmakers want to make it clear that the Elections Commission cannot do that.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu wrote to JCRAR chiefs Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and Rep. Adam Neylon, asking them to suspend the Elections’ Commission guidance.
He quoted state law in his request.
“Agencies are required to promulgate rules through Wisconsin’s Administrative Procedure Act, which reads in relevant part: ‘No agency may implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold … unless that standard, requirement, or threshold is explicitly required or explicitly permitted by statute,’” LeMahieu wrote.
The Elections Commission has faced questions and pushback about its guidance to local election clerks across the state.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this month ruled against the Commission’s guidance in 2020 that allowed cities, counties, and towns to use ballot drop boxes.
The court ruled that ballot drop boxes are illegal under Wisconsin law, and scolded the Elections Commission for allowing them.
Lawmakers last week then criticized the Elections Commission once again, this time for leaving local election managers on their own when it comes to questions about who can return how many ballots in the state.
Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, on Monday said it’s time for the legislature to get rid of the Elections Commission once and for all.
“WEC’s continued refusal to respect its clear legal obligations to both the judicial and legislative branches of our government represents an incredibly brazen challenge to the basic principles of separation of powers and a dangerous threat to our democracy by undermining the fairness of our electoral process,” Sanfelippo said in a statement.
“Accountability for these repeated and deliberate violations of the law is long overdue, which is why I am, once again, renewing my call for the immediate dismissal of the WEC Commissioners who vote to disobey state law, as well as WEC Administrator Meghan Wolfe, Deputy Administrator Richard Rydecki, and any other staff responsible for the agency’s ongoing unlawful actions in defiance of court rulings and legislative demands.”
Sanfelippo also called for Wisconsin’s attorney general, and local district attorneys to investigate the Elections Commission for possible crimes.
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission’s wanton disregard for the rule of law must end now,” Sanfelippo added.
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