Northeast Wisconsin Patriots | January 3, 2024

AB (Assembly Bill) 567 – Early Canvassing of Absentee Ballots –passed the Wisconsin Assembly on November 11 by voice vote. We don’t know how our Northeast Wisconsin legislators voted.

The bill was immediately sent over to the State Senate. SB (Senate Bill) 685 currently sits in the Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protectionand we hope it dies there! But if it passes out of committee it will likely be voted on by the Senate in January; if it reaches his desk, Gov. Evers has said he would sign the bill into law.

N.E.W. Patriots has been keeping a close eye on SB 685 and has done a great deal of homework on its pros and cons. We have concluded it is NOT a good bill. We urge you to contact your Senator today and tell him or her to vote NO on SB 685!

What the Bill Does

AB 567/SB 685 allows (and in some cases requires) that absentee ballots be “canvassed” starting on the Monday before Election Day. Each returned absentee ballot envelope will be checked for accuracy (signatures, witness address, etc.) and recorded in the poll books that the voter’s absentee ballot has been received. Then the absentee ballot WILL BE OPENED and fed into the tabulating machine.

Three times on Monday the municipal clerk (or municipal board of election inspectors) must notify the county clerk (or county board of election inspectors) with the total number of absentee ballots returned and total number processed. The county clerk must promptly post this information at the website on which returns for the county are posted on election night.

On Monday evening, when the absentee ballot canvassers recess, they must store overnight, with tamper-evident security, all the equipment that now has a partial count recorded. That would mean securing tabulating machines and any areas where programmed media devices, memory devices, ballots, etc. are stored.

Opening the Door to Fraud

We are convinced that Monday processing of absentee ballots opens the door to even more fraud opportunities. Sure, the bill makes tampering with ballots etc. a felony, but what does that mean in our current judicial system? Furthermore, some jurisdictions don’t have enough election observers to monitor where needed on Election Day Tuesday, let alone also on Monday!

As Bill Savage, editor of Wisconsin Conservative Digest, noted: “Allowing Milwaukee to open absentee ballots on the Monday before the election is nothing short of crazy. With same-day registration and bloated voter rolls, crazy might be too soft of a word. Perhaps criminal is a better word.”

Ballots Can Easily Be Processed on Election Day

Sandy Juno, a long-time Brown County Clerk, told us “Processing can be completed on Election Day without delays if the election is properly managed. We know the number of ballots that can be scanned per hour,” so we know how many scanners and poll workers are needed.

If the citizens of Wisconsin want election results more quickly – to avoid the “midnight dump” of ballots – then our municipalities should engage more poll workers on Election Day! Can’t find enough help? Try paying a better wage and poll workers will come! We’d rather see our tax dollars spent securing the election process than on many, many other things our government wastes spending on. Besides, extending ballot processing to Monday won’t be free, so it’s hard to argue that Monday processing will save time or tax dollars.

This is totally a problem created by government (by allowing early voting in the first place), and now, as is so typical, government is rushing in to “fix” the problem it created!

The Monday processing bill includes a couple good provisions, including whistleblower protection for clerks. (The original version of the bill included a provision for confirming the voter’s citizenship status, but that provision has been stripped from an amended version of the Senate bill.) However, it is clear to us that the good provisions in the bill do not nearly outweigh the bad.

Call Committee Members and Your Senator Today!

Please call members of the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection to insist this bill not come out of committee!

Daniel Knodl (Chair) – 608-266-5830
Dan Feyen (Vice-Chair) – 608-266-5300
Romaine Robert Quinn – 608-266-3510
Mark Spreitzer – 608-266-2253
Jeff Smith – 608-266-8546

If SB 685 DOES make it out of committee and comes up for a vote in the Senate, it will probably be in January. Please call your Senator today and insist that he/she vote NO if this bill reaches the Senate Floor — and demand a roll call vote, so no legislator can hide his/her actions!

Rachael Cabral-Guevara – 608-266-0718
Robert Cowles – 608-266-0484 or 800-334-1465 or 920-448-5092
Mary Felzkowski – 608-266-2509
Dan Feyen – 608-266-5300 or 920-952-7001
André Jacque – 608-266-3512
Duey Stroebel – 608-266-7513
Eric Wimberger – 608-266-5670

If you aren’t sure who your State Senator is, use the “Find your legislator” link here:

STOP the Monday Processing Bill