Wisconsin AG hails decision to perform voter checks

Chris Rizo Jan. 15, 2009, 3:00pm

J.B. Van Hollen (R)

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday hailed a decision by state elections officials to perform retroactive voter registration checks.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced Thursday it will do verification checks on voters who have registered since Jan. 1, 2006. Van Hollen claimed in a lawsuit that the checks are required under federal law.

"Today's action by the Government Accountability Board isn't ideal," Van Hollen said. "It is never ideal to be out-of-compliance with the law, particularly for more than three years. But I am pleased the Government Accountability Board has now resolved to follow the law."

The Republican attorney general had sued state election officials to force them to verify the identity of thousands of voters registered since Jan. 1, 2006, before the 2008 presidential election.

Van Hollen's lawsuit was dismissed by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, who ruled the attorney genera lacked the authority to sue to force the state Government Accountability Board to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.

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

"When I made the difficult decision to file suit against the Government Accountability Board last September, I did so to try to ensure that laws requiring HAVA checks would be followed. That's my job," Van Hollen said. "The fact is, these election laws weren't being followed."

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.

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

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