Conservatively Speaking

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.

Congratulations Franklin and Northwestern Mutual Life!

Today marks the exciting ribbon-cutting ceremony at Northwestern Mutual Life’s expansion project at its corporate campus in Franklin. The $85 million, six-story expansion at the 230,000-square-foot facility will have the space to add 1,100 employees.

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NML) is one of the most prestigious and successful firms in all of Wisconsin, in business for more than 150 years. A solid company with over $1 trillion of life insurance, NML can boast having the highest available ratings for insurance strength from all four major rating agencies: Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings, A.M. Best and Moody’s.

FORTUNE Magazine has recognized the strength and stability of NML, designating it “America’s Most Admired” company in the life/health insurance industry for 25 years. NML has been included in the FORTUNE survey of top industry professionals and analysts every year, and is the only company to lead its industry every year of the survey.

Franklin is an ideal location for NML to expand. Despite a rough economy, Franklin continues to beat the odds through prosperity and growth. I appreciate representing Franklin in state Senate District 28 and I congratulate NML and city of Franklin officials for this marvelous achievement.

Wisconsin has potential for major voting problems

Photo ID

That’s the assessment of a new report by the Pew Center on the States on 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. 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 

Predictions of an error-filled Election Day appear to be true

On February 4, 2008, I agreed with a gloomy election forecast from Dr. Robert A. Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University in Washington, DC. I wrote the following:

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.

The Wisconsin State Journal gets it, for the most part

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.

Wisconsin school trends

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