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Support AB-235 and SB-198 to Allow County-wide SRD's

The main authors are Terese Berceau in the Assembly and Tim Cullen in the Senate.

To join the effort, join this Yahoo email group, set  up specifically for this purpose, by sending a blank email to VotingRightsWisconsin-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

In Wisconsin, we have a storied history of high Election Day participation. Due to this, we have devised a system to assist our municipal clerks in registering our citizens to vote by use of Special Registration Deputies (SRD). Unfortunately, the way that state law is worded, SRD's often must register with multiple municipalities within a single county in order to register new voters at high schools, farmer’s markets and other public gatherings. Quite often, they must turn away someone who wants to register because they are not authorized by the municipality in which the potential voter lives.

In order to assist the SRD's in their work, AB-235 and SB-198 would allow a County Clerk to also authorize SRD's to register voters within an entire county.

Key points of the bills:

  • County Clerks would have the right to appoint Special Registration Deputies who can register voters in the entire county.

  • There is no mandate to County Clerks.  They would have the right to determine the resources appropriate for their county.

  • County Clerks would be able to designate Municipal Clerks and their employees to train and appoint county-wide SRD's.

  • The draft bill does not change the program for appointing municipal SRD’s, except for the term of office.

  • The term of appointments would be from July 1 of odd number years to June 30 two years later.  This expiration date would come when there are no impending elections.

  • SRD’s that are being paid by organizations to register voters may not be given an explicit or implied quota of registrants.

Sign the Petition to Allow County Clerks to Train and Appoint Special Registration Deputies for the Entire County

FAQ on this proposal

Under current law, those wishing to register voters can only be appointed by a municipality.  In order to register voters who are from other municipalities, the SRD must go to each municipality for training and appointment.  This is inefficient for both clerks and SRD’s, involving multiple training, appointing, and recordkeeping across the borders of 1850 municipalities.  See Statute 6.26.

Until recently, the GAB was able to authorize to train state-wide SRD’s.   However, the GAB has staff only in Madison.  This resulted in uneven distribution of training opportunities, and high travel expenses for the GAB.  The GAB was not able to provide enough resources to meet the need.

2011 Wisconsin Act 23 abolished statewide SRD’s.  A February 11 article in the Capital Times illustrated how this has led to difficulties in registering newly naturalized citizens.

At a public hearing for a bill (AB-481) to eliminate the requirement for SRD’s at high schools, the author cited the difficulty in meeting current law, since school districts often cover several municipalities.

This proposed legislation for county-wide SRD's would give 72 county clerks throughout the state the opportunity to train and authorize SRD’s and will greatly mitigate travel expenses for both trainers and SRD’s.  Individual counties will be able to determine the proper amount of resources for this program. 

This legislation will facilitate voter registration that is more accurate and more convenient for voters, registrars, and clerks.

Sign the Petition

FAQ on County-Wide Special Registration Deputies

Why is this needed?

Comments from petition signers:

  • “I had to get certified in 8 municipalities to register students at Middleton High School.”

  • “It is critical to remove unnecessary barriers to the right to vote. I had to expend considerable time and effort this year to be deputized in several municipalities--a waste for taxpayers for each clerk to spend time on the process.”

  • “I know many elderly and disabled folks find it challenging to do the process due to getting to the DMV and having the necessary documents.”

Why not re-institute state-wide Special Registration Deputies?

The GAB was administering the statewide program but did not adequately support it.  It was difficult for an agency with staff only in Madison, to conduct a statewide training program.  In early 2011, instead of offering training for SRD’s, they allowed the legislature to kill the program.

Would county SRD’s have to send all the forms to the County Clerk?

That would be up to the individual County Clerk.  For smaller municipalities, the County Clerks are already entering registration forms into the Statewide Voter Registration System.  Perhaps the clerks could prepare a list of municipalities, with directions as to whether forms should be sent to the municipality, or to the county.

What about a city that is in two or more counties?

As part of the training, the County Clerk should alert the SRD to this situation.  Perhaps the County Clerk could make arrangements with the municipal clerk for simultaneous appointments as a municipal SRD for that city.  These types of situations are best left to the local clerks to resolve.

Will County Clerks support this proposal?

Please contact your County Clerk (an elected official) and encourage them to support this.

Will there still be municipal SRD’s?

The draft bill does not change the program for appointing municipal SRD’s, except it changes the term of appointment.  See below.

Why does it change the term of appointment?

The bill calls for the terms for both county and municipal SRD's to start in July of odd number years, and to end on June 30 two years later.  This expiration date is during the time when there are no scheduled elections, so that there are several months to renew appointments.

Who will pay for it?

It will be up to the counties to support the program as each county sees the need.  Overall, it may save time, since this will reduce the need for multiple training, appointments, and record keeping.  Clerks can pool their resources.

Sign the Petition

Web page by Paul Malischke malischke@yahoo.com  Last updated May 26, 2014