Wis. AG: Voter protection lawsuit cost taxpayers $155

Chris Rizo Oct. 22, 2008, 3:48pm

J.B. Van Hollen (R)

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline)-- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's lawsuit to force state officials to confirm thousands of voters' identities has only cost taxpayers $155, the Republican wrote in a letter to state lawmakers.

The attorney general made the disclosure in a letter to Rep. Mark Pocan and Sen. Mark Miller, Democrats on the Legislature's budget committee, who asked Van Hollen for an accounting of the lawsuit's cost earlier this month.

"At the time of your letter, the Department of Justice had spent the court filing fee: $155," Van Hollen wrote in his Oct. 14 letter.

The lawmakers have accused Van Hollen of filing the lawsuit as part of an effort to disenfranchise some Democratic voters.

"Let me close by plainly responding to your accusation that the 'suit appears to be motivated by partisan political purposes.' It is not," Van Hollen wrote. "It is my job to enforce the law as it is written, not calculate what political party might benefit from having the law followed."

Van Hollen is suing the state Government Accountability Board to force it to verify information of voters who registered since 2006 against other government databases in order to verify their identities. He says the board failed to meet the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, known as HAVA, on time.

Van Hollen said Wisconsin was required to have a system in place that would meet federal elections requirements no later than January 1, 2006. However, the system was not in place until just recently.

The attorney general said had Wisconsin met the HAVA deadline, new voters who registered by mail since January 1, 2006, would have been subject to a so-called "HAVA check" to ensure that the information they provided to election officials matched the information in other public databases.

"The goal of this requirement is to protect the integrity of elections by ensuring that only those who are qualified and properly registered would be permitted to cast ballots," Van Hollen said, announcing his lawsuit.

A ruling in the case is expected this week.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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