State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
That’s the assessment of a new report by the Pew Center on the States on electionline.org. A record number of voter registrations and predicted high turnouts will put heavy pressure on various voting systems around the country that continue to be plagued by glitches.
The report, “Election Preview 2008: What if We Had an Election and Everyone Came?” sums up Wisconsin:
”The statewide voter registration database was finally completed and made compliant with federal law over the summer, two years later than planned. However hiccups still emerged when the state started matching voter information with information in the department of motor vehicles database and found one in five records did not match due to issues such as typos, transposed letters or numbers, or using middle names for one record but not the other. And as in several other battleground states, there has been partisan fighting over voter eligibility and allegations of fraudulent voter registration forms being submitted.”
Nationally, the report describes America’s voting system as one that, “while still in flux with a host of changes since 2001, will, ready or not, face its greatest challenge in a high-stakes contest with massive turnout.” Here are some of the concerns raised in the report:
1) There has been a huge increase in voter registrations. How the information was gathered has come into questions with labor unions, community groups, advocacy organizations and others coming under heavy scrutiny.
2) Eligibility for college students, especially those who come to universities from out-of-state, has raised eyebrows.
3) Election Day registration is available in eight states, including Wisconsin. The surge in voter registrations makes the timeliness of registration-application processing an issue.
4) As a safety net, voters who believe that they are registered or fail to present proper ID are given d provisional ballots as required by the Help America Vote Act, HAVA. However, there is no uniformity among the states. More than half of the states require voters to be in the correct precinct to have their provisional ballots eligible for counting.
5) Record numbers of provisional ballots are predicted. In close races, decisions to accept or reject ballots could be pivotal to election outcomes.
6) Military personnel and civilian citizens abroad sill face problems, including relying on slow and/or unreliable foreign mail services and rules that can require witnesses or difficult-to-find notaries to substantiate ballots.
Stateline.org has an article on the report.
You can read the lengthy report here.
Read my previous blogs on this issue:
Predictions of an error-filled Election Day appear to be true
A Photo ID requirement is not the problem in our election system
On February 4, 2008, I agreed with a gloomy election forecast from Pastor says the majority of states have failed to adopt or even embrace reforms that would restore confidence and trust in America’s flawed election system. As a result, Pastor says problems with this year’s elections are inevitable.
The biggest problem according to Pastor will be voter registration lists. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 gave the states until January 1, 2006 to complete integrated, interactive lists. A few states have yet to comply. There has not been a thorough review to determine the quality of the lists. So a number of problems are still likely to occur in this year’s primary and general elections. Pastor also points out ‘about one third of the states have bottom-up databases that rely on counties and municipalities to retain their own registration lists and submit information to the state rather than the other way around. In contrast, top-down lists typically deliver information in real time.’
There are problems with new computerized systems that have replaced archaic punch card and lever voting. A paper trail is necessary in the event of recounts, but Congress has failed to fund and provide voter-verified paper-audit trails. Some states are so concerned that they are thinking about dumping their electronic voting systems in favor of a paper system prior to the November election.”
The Washington Post is reporting that due to mix-ups in voting systems around the country, thousands of eligible voters will be forced to re-establish their eligibility. This November is shaping up to be the most mistake-riddled Election Day in American history.
With Governor Doyle predicting a $3 billion deficit in the next state budget, I wholeheartedly agree with positions stated in a Wisconsin State Journal editorial. The newspaper is right on writing:
"The conclusion is simple: State government has desperately been trying to live beyond its means.
It's time to stop.
It's time to recognize that to put together a sound state budget for the next two years, the governor and lawmakers need a dose of fiscal reality.
They need to get far more serious about setting priorities. The state can no longer afford everything at once…. fee and tax increases should be viewed skeptically. With recession threatening, taxpayers simply cannot afford to contribute more.”
I disagree with this statement in the editorial:
“To be sure, officials should also aim to maximize the state's revenue. Joining the multi-state Streamlined Sales Tax Project to help collect sales taxes from online and catalog sales should be an obvious choice. These are taxes the state is owned but is now unable to collect.”
The Streamlined Sales Tax would be another big, unaffordable tax increase.
The Wisconsin State Journal editorial comments about it is time to stop are correct and should be taken to heart by Governor Doyle and every state legislator.
There is great concern about the safety of fluorescent light bulbs given that the United States is phasing out the use of traditional, incandescent light bulbs and mandating the use of fluorescent bulbs. Most Americans fail to realize their choice of light bulbs has already been made in Washington.
Part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 approved and signed into law last year calls for a phasing out of traditional light bulbs beginning in 2012 leading to an all-out ban in 2014 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs or CFL’s. CFL’s contain dangerous mercury. When the bulbs are broken, the mercury escapes into surroundings and must be handled with extreme caution.
Blogger John Lott and others wrote about the story of a Maine woman and her terrible experience with a broken CFL. A Maine Department of Environmental Protection employee came out to her home to check for damage and then suggested to the woman that she call in a firm that turned out to be a clean-up process costing over $2,000.
Since this well-publicized account, other stories have reported that it is unnecessary for an environmental clean-up firm to respond to a broken CFL. Even so, pray you never break one in your home. The measures to take suggested by the state of Maine, the site of the above-mentioned story, pose one hassle after another.
During March 2008, two dozen members of the House, including Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. The act repeals the portions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that mandate the use of CFL’s unless the comptroller general can offer a report that finds specific financial benefits of using the bulbs, environmental benefits achieved by their use, and evidence that addresses concerns of mercury threats from CFL’s.
On March 14, 2008, the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act was referred to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. Seven months later, the committee, controlled by Democrats, including committee member Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), has yet to schedule a hearing.
I find it amazing pro-choice Democrats refuse to let Americans decide what kind of light bulbs they want in their own homes.