Top Madison officials introduced two new measures today aimed at strengthening election integrity and protecting election officials.
The first would protect election workers from harassment while doing their jobs.
According to a poll by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy group, one out of every six local election officials have reported experiencing threats while working.
That includes right here in Madison. Scott McDonnell is the Dane County Clerk
“My office has been the target of harassment, and I know other clerks around the state have as well, it’s an unfortunate trend,” McDonnell says
The legislation was written by Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, along with alder Patrick Heck, Common Council President Keith Furman, and Council Vice President Jael Currie.
The proposed ordinance, announced at a press conference earlier today, creates stricter fines for people charged with disorderly conduct targeted at an election official. Now, this disorderly conduct charge carries a fine of no more than $1,000.
Madison Attorney Michael Haas says that the ordinance is made to protect election workers.
“The goal with this ordinance is to increase accountability for those who would harass or threaten local election officials because of their job. These are public servants who are just doing their job. It is unacceptable to have them constantly deal with personal insults and threats. That’s why the upper limit for these disorderly conduct tickets is set at $1000, and these citations for disorderly conduct directed at election officials will be issued by law enforcement at a higher amount than other disorderly conduct citations,” Haas says.
Another measure announced today calls on all elected officials to not undermine confidence in election results or in election officials.
Additionally, the resolution directs election staff to implement any necessary security measures for the city clerk’s office to ensure the safe conduct of elections.
To show just how safe our elections are, Mayor Rhodes-Conway encourages doubters to watch the elections for themselves.
“If you have any doubts about the electoral process in Madison or in the state of Wisconsin, I encourage you to sign up to be a poll worker. You will learn firsthand how safe that process is,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway says.
Also speaking at today’s press conference was Dane County Judge Everette Mitchell. Mitchell is running for state supreme court next year.
“As Congressman Lewis said, we must do the work that justice and equality call us to do. This is a way for us, as a city, as a county, as a state, to do something that can get us into some good trouble as he would say. I think that it is time for us to get in to some good trouble and make sure that we are protecting those that are in our community that make sure that everyone’s voice is counted” Mitchell says.
Judge Mitchell also said that drop boxes are not only safe and reliable, but give both voters and election officials more options and flexibility in participating in the democratic process.
Both measures are scheduled to be introduced at next week’s Common Council meeting.
The local measures come as state election officials also scramble to create new guidance in the wake of the state Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday, which found that absentee ballot drop boxes cannot be used in elections.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission held a meeting this afternoon to determine new guidance for clerks in the wake of that ruling. The clock is ticking, as we’re exactly four weeks away from the August 9th partisan primary.
Meanwhile, two Republican candidates held a press conference today, calling again to decertify the 2020 presidential election.
The so-called “call to action” comes from state representative and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Ramthun and Chippewa Falls attorney Karen Mueller, a candidate in the Republican primary for Attorney General.
Ramthun says that Friday’s Supreme Court ruling bolsters his drive to decertify the 2020 election.
“What was created then, in my opinion, is the reason to decertify, because those numbers got mixed in with the legitimate ballots, so the whole thing is a cloud. In a way, we don’t know the true outcome of the election, and how can you certify something that is unknown? And yet it was certified. So we need to decertify to turn that switch back off again and move from there,” Ramthun says.
Multiple court cases and recounts have affirmed that Joe Biden won the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election. There is no way to decertify the 2020 election.
Photo courtesy: Chali Pittman / WORT Flickr