2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
May 24, 2019 - Introduced by Senators Bernier, Miller,
Smith, Bewley and
Schachtner, cosponsored by Representatives Tusler,
Anderson, Krug, Loudenbeck, Macco, Mursau, Ramthun, Vruwink and
Subeck. Referred to Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.
1An Act to repeal
5.06 (10); to renumber and amend
5.06 (1); to amend
(4), 5.06 (7), 5.15 (4) (a), 5.60 (3) (ag), 5.62 (1) (a), 5.94, 6.45 (1), 6.46 (2), 6.47 (1) 3
(ag), 6.47 (1) (dm), 7.08 (10), 7.23 (1) (e), 7.50 (2) (em), 7.52 (1) (b), 7.60 (5) (a), 4
9.01 (2), 10.01 (1), 10.06 (2) (d), 10.06 (2) (f), 10.06 (2) (j), 10.06 (2) (L), 10.06 (3) 5
(as), 10.06 (3) (b), 10.06 (3) (c) and 10.06 (3) (d); and to create
5.06 (1) (b) and 6
9.10 (2) (e) 9. of the statutes; relating to: elections administration, recall
7petitions, and recount procedures.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes various changes to the state's election laws, including the
1. Under current law, the Elections Commission is authorized to review the
conduct of election officials for violations of law and abuse of discretion. Current law
provides that the commission may, after investigation, issue an order requiring an
election official to conform his or her conduct to the law, restraining an election
official from taking an action inconsistent with the law, or requiring an election
official to correct an action or decision inconsistent with the law.
This bill authorizes the commission to issue such other temporary orders of
limited effect as it deems necessary to carry out its powers and duties in reviewing
the conduct of election officials.
2. Under current law, only courts are authorized to review matters concerning
recounts. This bill does not affect that authority but additionally authorizes the
commission to review the decision or other conduct of an election official with respect
to matters concerning a recount in order to determine whether the official's decision
or other conduct is contrary to law or constitutes an abuse of discretion. That
authority mirrors the commission's authority with respect to other matters arising
in the course of elections. Under the bill, the commission may not review a final
recount determination that is ripe for appeal in court.
3. This bill alters the methods of delivery of a recount petition to candidates in
an election. Under current law, a petition for a recount for an elected office must be
filed with the clerk or body with whom nomination papers are filed for that office. The
clerk or body is required to deliver the petition to each opposing candidate or the
candidate's designated agent. The candidate or agent must acknowledge personal
delivery of the petition by signing a receipt. If a candidate or agent does not
personally accept delivery of the petition, the clerk or body must promptly deliver the
copies of the petition to the sheriff, who must then deliver the copies of the petition
to each candidate at the address given on the candidate's nomination papers in the
manner provided for service of a summons in civil actions.
This bill adds the following steps to this process:
a. If a candidate or agent does not personally accept delivery of the petition, the
clerk or body is required to attempt to notify the candidate or agent of the petition
by e-mail and by telephone and, upon receiving acknowledgment from the candidate
or agent, retain documentation of that notice.
b. If the clerk or body does not receive acknowledgment by e-mail or by
telephone, the clerk or body must deliver copies of the petition to the sheriff for
service as described above. However, if the sheriff does not serve a copy of the petition
within 24 hours, the clerk or body must publish or post notice of the petition, which
must occur at least 24 hours before the start of the recount.
4. Under current law, the commission is required to provide information on a
continuing basis to all municipal clerks concerning the names and addresses of
domestic abuse and sexual assault service providers. Under this bill, the commission
is required to provide that information only as needed to verify the voting eligibility
of a voter whose identity must be kept confidential because the voter is the victim of
domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
5. Under this bill, an individual's signature on a recall petition may not be
counted unless, among the other requirements provided under current law, the
signer legibly prints his or her name in a space provided next to his or her signature.
6. This bill requires county clerks to publish a type A notice of a referendum
prior to a partisan primary or spring primary if a referendum will appear on the
ballot at the spring or partisan primary. Under current law, a type A notice of a
referendum must contain the text of the ballot question and a statement specifying
where a copy of the resolution directing submission of the question may be obtained.
7. This bill requires municipal clerks to publish certain notices, required under
current law for spring and general elections, prior to a partisan primary or spring
primary when a referendum will appear on the ballot at the spring or partisan
8. Under current law, each county clerk is required to deliver or transmit to the
commission a certified copy of each statement of a county board of canvassers
regarding an election within certain specified time periods after primaries and all
other elections. This bill specifies that the certified copies must be delivered or
transmitted to the commission in a manner prescribed by the commission.
9. Current law allows a municipality to appoint additional election inspectors
for the canvassing of absentee ballots by the municipal board of absentee ballot
canvassers. Under current law, an inspector so appointed must be a qualified elector
of the municipality. This bill provides that if the municipality cannot identify a
sufficient number of qualified electors of the municipality to serve as inspectors, the
municipality may appoint qualified electors of the county in which the municipality
is located to serve as inspectors.
10. Current law requires that spring election ballots for town, village, and
school district offices include sufficient space for write-in candidates. This bill
requires that spring election ballots for city offices also include sufficient space for
11. This bill eliminates the requirement that a partisan primary ballot list the
names of independent candidates for state office. Prior to July 1, 2011, listing the
names of independent candidates for state office on the partisan primary ballot was
necessary for determining eligibility for providing public financing for such
candidates. Current law no longer provides public financing for campaigns for state
12. Under current law, a poll list created for an election must be maintained
for 22 months after the election. This bill provides that an original electronic poll list
need not be maintained if a true copy is maintained for the 22-month period.
13. Under current law, when a municipality uses an electronic voting system
for an election, the clerks of the county and municipality where the system is used
must provide notice of the ballot form and contents by arranging for the publication
of an actual size copy of the ballot. Current law, however, allows a publisher to reduce
the size of the facsimile ballot for publication purposes. This bill eliminates the
inconsistency between these two provisions by eliminating the requirement that the
clerks arrange for publication of an actual size copy of the ballot.
14. This bill specifies that a municipal clerk need not make paper copies of a
registration list for use in an election if an electronic registration list is used.
15. Under current law, a municipal clerk is required upon request to provide
a candidate one copy of the current poll list for those areas for which he or she is a
candidate. Current law specifies that if a copying machine is unavailable, the clerk
is required to remove the lists from the office to make copies and return the lists
immediately thereafter. This bill removes any reference to a copying machine.
16. Under current law, one of the circumstances under which all write-in votes
must be counted for a particular office in an election occurs if a candidate certified
to appear on the ballot dies or withdraws before the election. Under this bill, all
write-in votes must be counted under that circumstance only if a candidate certified
to appear on the ballot dies before the election.
17. Under current law, the commission is required to make rules and draft
whatever forms it considers necessary to standardize the form of various election
notices. This bill eliminates the requirement to make such rules but not the
requirement to draft standardized forms.
18. The bill provides that, for the purpose of creating wards, no ward line may
cross the boundary of a congressional, assembly, or supervisory district.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
5.06 (1) of the statutes is renumbered 5.06 (1) (a) and amended to 2
(a) Whenever any elector of a jurisdiction or district served by an
4election official person authorized under par. (b) to file a complaint
believes that a 5
decision or action of the an election
official or the failure of the official to act with 6
respect to any matter concerning nominations, qualifications of candidates, voting 7
qualifications, including residence, ward division and numbering, recall, ballot 8
preparation, election administration or,
conduct of elections, or, subject to par. (b) 2.,
9conduct of a recount,
is contrary to law, or the official has abused the discretion vested 10
in him or her by law with respect to any such matter, the elector authorized person 11
may file a written sworn complaint with the commission requesting that the official 12
be required to conform his or her conduct to the law, be restrained from taking any 13
action inconsistent with the law,
or be required to correct any action or decision 14
inconsistent with the law or any abuse of the discretion vested in him or her by law. 15
The complaint shall set forth such facts as are within the knowledge of the 16
complainant to show probable cause to believe that a violation of law or abuse of 17
discretion has occurred or will occur. The complaint may be accompanied by relevant
supporting documents. The commission may conduct a hearing on the matter in the 2
manner prescribed for treatment of contested cases under ch. 227 if it believes such 3
action to be appropriate.
5.06 (1) (b) of the statutes is created to read:
(b) The following persons are authorized to file a complaint under this 6
1. An elector of a jurisdiction or district served by an election official who is a 8
subject of the complaint.
2. A candidate voted for at an election who is an aggrieved party, as determined 10
under s. 9.01 (1) (a) 5., or an elector who voted upon a referendum question at an 11
election, with respect to a recount under s. 9.01, except that a recount determination 12
that is ripe for appeal under s. 9.01 (6) is not reviewable under this subsection.
5.06 (4) of the statutes is amended to read:
The commission may, on its own motion, investigate and determine 15
whether any election official, with respect to any matter concerning nominations,
16qualifications of candidates, voting qualifications, including residence, ward
17division and numbering, recall, ballot preparation, election administration or
18conduct of elections specified in sub. (1)
, has failed to comply with the law or abused 19
the discretion vested in him or her by law or proposes to do so.
5.06 (7) of the statutes is amended to read:
The commission may withdraw, modify or correct an order issued 22
under sub. (6) within a timely period if it finds such action to be appropriate. The
23commission may issue such other temporary orders of limited effect as it deems
24necessary to carry out its powers and duties under this section.
5.06 (10) of the statutes is repealed.
5.15 (4) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Except as provided in par. (c), the division ordinance or resolution 3
shall number all wards in the municipality with unique whole numbers in 4
consecutive order, beginning with the number one, shall designate the polling place 5
for each ward, and shall describe the boundaries of each ward consistent with the 6
conventions set forth in s. 4.003. No ward line may cross the boundary of a
7congressional, assembly, or supervisory district.
The ordinance or resolution shall 8
be accompanied by a list of the block numbers used by the U.S. bureau of the census 9
that are wholly or partly contained within each ward, with any block numbers partly 10
contained within a ward identified, and a map of the municipality which illustrates 11
the revised ward boundaries. If the legislature, in an act redistricting legislative 12
districts under article IV, section 3, of the constitution, or in redistricting 13
congressional districts, establishes a district boundary within a municipality that 14
does not coincide with the boundary of a ward established under the ordinance or 15
resolution of the municipality, the municipal governing body shall, no later than 16
April 10 of the 2nd year following the year of the federal decennial census on which 17
the act is based, amend the ordinance or resolution to the extent required to effect 18
the act. The amended ordinance or resolution shall designate the polling place for 19
any ward that is created to effect the legislative act. Nothing in this paragraph shall 20
be construed to compel a county or city to alter or redraw supervisory or aldermanic 21
5.60 (3) (ag) of the statutes is amended to read:
(ag) Except as authorized in s. 5.655, there shall be a separate ballot 24
giving the names of all candidates for city offices, printed in the same form as 25
prescribed by the commission under s. 7.08 (1) (a). Sufficient space shall be provided
1on the ballot for write-in candidates.
City election ballots may vary in form to 2
conform to the law under which an election is held.
5.62 (1) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) At the partisan primary, the following ballot shall be provided for 5
the nomination of candidates of recognized political parties for national, state and 6
county offices and independent candidates for state office
in each ward, in the same 7
form as prescribed by the commission under s. 7.08 (1) (a), except as authorized in 8
s. 5.655. The ballots shall be made up of the several party tickets with each party 9
entitled to participate in the primary under par. (b) or sub. (2) having its own ballot, 10
except as authorized in s. 5.655. The ballots shall be secured together at the bottom. 11
The party ballot of the party receiving the most votes for president or governor at the 12
last general election shall be on top with the other parties arranged in descending 13
order based on their vote for president or governor at the last general election. The 14
ballots of parties qualifying under sub. (2) shall be placed after the parties qualifying 15
under par. (b), in the same order in which the parties filed petitions with the 16
commission. Any ballot required under par. (b) 2. shall be placed next in order. At 17
polling places where voting machines are used, each party shall be represented in 18
one or more separate columns or rows on the ballot. At polling places where an 19
electronic voting system is used other than an electronic voting machine, each party 20
may be represented in separate columns or rows on the ballot.