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Friendly Reminder: Reporting Requirements for the 2012 Consent Decree for the November General Election

Posted in
Priority: 
Timely Attention Required
Date: 
August 21, 2012
To: 
Wisconsin County Clerks
To: 
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
To: 
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
To: 
Milwaukee County Election Commission
From: 
Nathaniel E. Robinson, Elections Division Administrator
AttachmentSize
Consent Decree Requirements Reminder 2 08-21-2012.pdf55.38 KB

All clerks must respond to each and every reporting requirement
even if your municipality does not have any military or overseas voters.

As part of the State’s continuing compliance with the 2012 Consent Decree regarding the Federal MOVE Act, starting September 1, 2012, a series of reporting requirements will be emailed to clerks requesting your timely attention and response.  Clerks without an email address will receive these reports via USPS. 

Special Note:  All municipalities must respond to three remaining 2012 reports.  Even if your municipality does not have any military or overseas voters, you must respond to every reporting requirement.  Due to the timing of the reports stipulated by the Federal Court Consent Decree, some of the notices will be sent to clerks only one day before they must be completed and returned to the G.A.B. to be forwarded to the US Department of Justice (USDOJ).  

Below is a list of the dates that the notices will be sent to municipal clerks; the dates the reporting requirements must be completed; and, the data to be gathered in each reporting requirement.  Please mark your calendar with the dates below to ensure you complete each reporting requirement by the mandatory deadlines.  It is critical that we obtain complete and timely report responses from every municipality to comply with the Consent Decree.   G.A.B. staff spent approximately 600 hours attempting to contact clerks who did not respond in a timely manner as part of the reporting requirements related to the 2012 Presidential Primary, and therefore your prompt attention will be greatly appreciated.

Municipal Clerks’ Reporting Requirement #4

  • Date Report sent to Municipal Clerks:    September 1, 2012
  • Date Report must be completed:        September 14, 2012

Data Gathered: This request will ask municipal clerks to certify that they have the capability to email and fax absentee ballots to military and permanent overseas voters if they request a ballot be emailed or faxed for the November General Election.  Municipalities without a scanner or email address must certify that they will work with the county or another municipality to ensure ballots can be emailed and faxed to military or overseas voters.

Municipal Clerks’ Reporting Requirement #5

  • Date Report sent to Municipal Clerks:    September 20, 2012
  • Date Report must be completed:        September 24, 2012

Data Gathered:  The report will ask clerks to report how many valid absentee ballot requests for the
November General Election from military and permanent overseas voters were on file as of September 22, 2012 and the dates absentee ballots were sent to these military and overseas voters.

Municipal Clerks’ Reporting Requirement #6

  • Date Report sent to Municipal Clerks:    October 7, 2012
  • Date Report must be completed:        October 8, 2012

Data Gathered:    The request will ask clerks to report how many valid absentee ballot requests from military and permanent overseas voters were received between September 23, 2012 and October 7, 2012, for the November General Election.   In addition, clerks will also be asked to provide the dates absentee ballots were actually sent to these military and overseas voters.

Note:  Please note that Wisconsin law establishes a stricter deadline of 47 days prior to an election for transmitting absentee ballots to military and permanent overseas voters with a request on file.  However, because of the Consent Decree, the reporting requirements are based upon the Federal deadline of 45 days before a Federal election (an election in which there is a Federal office on the ballot, i.e. US Senate, US Representative, US Vice President and US President).

County Clerks

All county clerks are required to send an email to the G.A.B. as soon as they deliver ballots to their municipal clerks.  The email is required to be sent no later than September 19, 2012, for the November General Election.

Background Information

The 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act requires that absentee ballots to all military and overseas voters are to be transmitted no later than 45 days before any Federal election.  In 2010 the State of Wisconsin was sued by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) because some clerks did not distribute absentee ballots to military on or before 45 days prior to the 2010 Federal elections.  The result of the suit was a Consent Decree between the State of Wisconsin and the USDOJ.  The Consent Decree required the State of Wisconsin to provide a number of reports regarding military and overseas absentee ballots.

In 2012, the USDOJ followed up with states that were sued in 2010 to ensure their ability to comply with the MOVE Act.  In early March of this year, municipal clerks completed a report to confirm that all military and overseas absentee ballots for the Presidential Preference Primary were transmitted at least 45 days before the 2012 April Presidential Preference and Spring Primary.  The results of the report revealed that over 50 municipalities failed to send out absentee ballots to military and overseas voters 45 days before the April Presidential Preference and Spring Primary.

As a result of the failure of some municipalities to transmit absentee ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before a Federal election, all clerks are impacted by the failure of a few.  Once again, Wisconsin was required to enter into a Consent Decree with USDOJ that mandates a number of reports from the State regarding the timing (date) and method of transmission that by which absentee ballots were distributed to military and overseas voters. 

If you have additional questions, please contact the G.A.B. Help Desk at (608) 261-2028, toll-free at (866) VOTEWIS (868-3947), or by email at GABHelpDesk@wi.gov.  Thank you.

cc:    Kevin J. Kennedy
    Director and General Counsel
    Government Accountability Board