Van Hollen draws criticism over voter verification lawsuit

Chris Rizo Jan. 29, 2009, 11:52am

J.B. Van Hollen (R)

Mark Pocan (D)

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline)-Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen drew criticism from a state lawmaker for not detailing expenses associated with a lawsuit he filed to force a state agency to perform voter checks.

State Rep. Mark Pocan, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said the Republican attorney general has a duty to outline the cost of his lawsuit against the Government Accountability Board.

"It is unfortunate that Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refuses to fulfill his fiscal responsibilities to taxpayers by ignoring a request from the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee to explain the costs of his lawsuit against another government agency," said Pocan, D-Madison.

Van Hollen 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.

His lawsuit was dismissed by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, who ruled the attorney general 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.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the lawsuit was a political one, pursued in concert with the Republican Party," Pocan said. "As we know, similar lawsuits were filed in other states across the country all at the same time-just before November's election. The total cost to state taxpayers for this folly is likely in excess of $100,000, but due to the stonewalling of the attorney general, we may never know the real cost."

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