Wisconsin AG to dispatch agents to supervise election

Chris Rizo Oct. 30, 2008, 2:59pm

J.B. Van Hollen (R)

Jim Doyle (D)

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) -After having his lawsuit to force elections officials to verify voter information, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has decided to send special agents to supervise polling places.

"An individual's right to vote and have that vote counted is the foundation of our democratic system," Van Hollen said. "Citizens also have a right to vote in fair elections, untainted by election fraud. The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that every citizen's right to vote in a fair election is protected."

The Republican attorney general's move has sparked criticism from Wisconsin's Democratic governor, Jim Doyle, who called the plan part of a partisan ploy.

Van Hollen says he plans to deploy more than 50 assistant attorneys general and state agents around the state to guard against election fraud. The governor said Van Hollen lacks the authority to do so.

Last week, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi dismissed Van Hollen's lawsuit to force officials to cross-check information on voter rolls.

The judge ruled that Van Hollen lacked the authority to sue to force the state Government Accountability Board to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, known as HAVA.

The Help America Vote Act took, which effect January 2006, required states and localities to upgrade their election procedures, including their voting machines, registration processes and poll worker training.

Van Hollen has said if the state was in compliance by the date HAVA went into effect, Wisconsin would have had to cross-check voter registrations against other state data bases from the effective date forward.

Because the Badger State was not in compliance when HAVA took effect, the attorney general said the state should go back and review voter registration information of everyone who has registered to vote or changed their name or address since the law went into effect.

"We cannot lose sight of the goal of this lawsuit," Van Hollen said last week. "Wisconsin needs an accurate statewide voter list. Wisconsin needs to comply with state and federal laws designed to protect the right to vote. Looking the other way is not an option."

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