Melissa Sargent, State Representative

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Funding Elections Commission staff ensures secure and efficient elections

To preserve the integrity, transparency and fairness of elections in Wisconsin, we need to repair the damage to the Wisconsin Elections Commission caused by Governor Walker’s veto in September that removed five necessary staff from the commission.

Our Elections Commission staff investigate complaints of fraud and misconduct in elections, but they are also in charge of the integrity and security of our elections systems. Additionally, among their many responsibilities, the Elections Commission is charged with communicating with and training our local election officials, providing information on law changes impacting elections and training local officials on the process, laws, technology, court decisions and security of our elections.

The simple reality is, when staff positions like those in the Elections Commission are eliminated, so too are the services those staff provide. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has repeatedly been on the receiving end of many staffing cuts; and with Governor Walker’s veto, our election system will simply not function as we need it to. Upon issuing his veto, Walker told the Commission to hire limited-term and contract employees, despite admissions from Republicans that this practice was insufficient during the 2016 elections. The Elections Commission will undoubtedly do everything in their power to make it work, but that doesn’t do much to ensure the integrity or security of our elections in the meantime.

I’m proud to be sponsoring a bill with Senator Jon Erpenbach to restore five full-time staff members to the Elections Commission — back to where the Commission was before Governor Walker’s veto — a provision that Republicans voted for in committee and on the floor of the legislature. Voting is fundamental to our democracy and preserving the integrity of our elections is paramount. We must restore the Elections Commission staff to ensure fairness, transparency and integrity in elections in Wisconsin.