2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
February 11, 2020 - Introduced by Senators Bernier, Wanggaard, Craig and
Jacque, cosponsored by Representatives Brandtjen, Allen,
Gundrum, Loudenbeck, Magnafici and Skowronski. Referred to Committee
on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.
1An Act to amend
5.05 (2m) (a), 6.56 (4) and 7.15 (1) (g); and to create
5.05 (2m) 2
(fg) of the statutes; relating to: investigations by the Elections Commission
3based on information from the Electronic Registration Information Center and
4from municipal clerks indicating that Wisconsin registered voters may have
5voted more than once in the same election, and complaints filed with the
6Elections Commission alleging election law violations.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, the administrator of the Elections Commission is required
to enter into a membership agreement with the Electronic Registration Information
Center (ERIC) to assist the commission in maintaining Wisconsin's official voter
registration list. The information ERIC provides to the commission includes
information about voters registered in Wisconsin who may have voted more than
once in the same election because the voter also voted in another state.
This bill requires the commission to obtain and examine after each general
election information provided by ERIC indicating that individuals registered to vote
in Wisconsin may have voted in another state in the same election. Under the bill,
if, after examination of such information and other relevant information and
documents, the commission determines based on criteria established by the
commission that an elector has likely voted more than once in the same election, the
commission must refer the matter to the appropriate district attorney or, in some
circumstances, the attorney general.
Also, under current law, after each election a municipal clerk is required to
perform an audit to assure that no person has been allowed to vote more than once.
If a municipal clerk has good reason to believe that a person has voted more than once
in an election, the municipal clerk is required to send the person a letter regarding
the matter and send a copy of the letter and subsequent information to the local
district attorney and the commission.
This bill applies those requirements to a municipal board of election
commissioners and requires the Elections Commission to verify receipt by district
attorneys of the required letters and information. For purposes of election
administration, municipal clerks are responsible for municipal election functions
except that, in cities having a population of more than 500,000 (the city of
Milwaukee), election functions are delegated by law to a municipal board of election
The bill also includes additional reporting requirements relating to all of the
commission's duties under the bill described above.
Finally, under current law, the commission may initiate an investigation of
potential violations of Wisconsin's election laws only if a sworn complaint is filed with
the commission alleging such a violation occurred. Current law prohibits members
of the commission, the commission administrator, and employees of the commission
from filing a sworn complaint.
Under the bill, any member of the commission and the commission
administrator or his or her designee may file a sworn complaint with the commission
alleging election law violations.
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:
5.05 (2m) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) The commission shall investigate violations of laws administered 3
by the commission and may prosecute alleged civil violations of those laws, directly 4
or through its agents under this subsection, pursuant to all statutes granting or 5
assigning that authority or responsibility to the commission. Prosecution of alleged 6
criminal violations investigated by the commission may be brought only as provided 7
in par. (c) 11., 14., 15., and 16. and s. 978.05 (1). For purposes of this subsection, 8except as provided under par. (fg),
the commission may only initiate an investigation
of an alleged violation of chs. 5 to 10 and 12, other than an offense described under 2
par. (c) 12., based on a sworn complaint filed with the commission, as provided under 3
par. (c). Neither the commission nor any Any
member or employee
of the commission,
the commission administrator
, or his or her designee
may file a sworn 5
complaint for purposes of this subsection.
5.05 (2m) (fg) of the statutes is created to read:
(fg) 1. After each general election, the commission shall obtain and 8
examine information from the Electronic Registration Information Center, Inc., 9
indicating that electors registered to vote in this state voted more than once in the 10
2. If, after examination of the information under subd. 1. and other relevant 12
information and documents, the commission determines based on criteria 13
established by the commission that an elector has likely voted more than once in the 14
same election, the commission shall refer the matter as provided in par. (c) 11. no 15
later than 180 days after the commission obtains the information under subd. 1.
3. If, after examination of information received under s. 6.56 (4) and other 17
relevant information and documents, the commission determines that an elector has 18
likely voted more than once in the same election, the commission shall refer the 19
matter as provided in par. (c) 11. no later than 180 days after the commission receives 20
the information under s. 6.56 (4).
4. Each county and municipal clerk and board of election commissioners shall 22
cooperate fully with commission investigations under this paragraph.
5. In each report it submits to the legislature under s. 7.15 (1) (g), the 24
commission shall include information relating to its duties under this paragraph,
including the number of referrals made under subds. 2. and 3. and a general 2
description of each referral and the outcome of the referral.
6.56 (4) of the statutes is amended to read:
After each election, the municipal clerk
or board of election
shall perform an audit to assure that no person has been allowed to 6
vote more than once. Whenever the municipal clerk or board of election
has good reason to believe that a person has voted more than once in 8
an election, the clerk or board of election commissioners
shall send the person a 1st 9
class letter marked in accordance with postal regulations to ensure that it will be 10
returned to the clerk or board of election commissioners
if the elector does not reside 11
at the address given on the letter. The letter shall inform the person that all 12
registrations relating to that person may be changed from eligible to ineligible status 13
within 7 days unless the person contacts the office of the clerk
or board of election
to clarify the matter. A copy of the letter and of any subsequent 15
information received from or about the addressee shall be sent to the district attorney 16
for the county where the person resides and the commission. The commission shall
17verify the district attorney's receipt of each letter and all subsequent information
18required to be sent to the district attorney under this subsection.
7.15 (1) (g) of the statutes is amended to read:
(g) In the manner prescribed by the commission, report suspected 21
election frauds, irregularities, or violations of which the clerk has knowledge to the 22
district attorney for the county where the suspected activity occurs and to the 23
commission. The commission shall annually report the information obtained under 24
this paragraph to the legislature under s. 13.172 (2). The report shall include
25information relating to the duties of a municipal clerk or board of election
1commissioners under s. 6.56 (4), including the number of letters referring matters
2to district attorneys under s. 6.56 (4) and a general description of each referral and
3the outcome of the referral.