Wisconsin commission won’t investigate 2 county clerks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Elections Commission will not investigate two county clerks for encouraging absentee voters staying home because of the coronavirus outbreak to use a provision to avoid the state’s photo ID requirement.

The commission deadlocked 3-3 Sunday on motions that would have tabled investigations into the two clerks while warning them that their use of indefinite confinement violated state elections laws. The Wisconsin State Journal reports motions by Democratic members to do away with the proposed investigations entirely also failed along party lines.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell and Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson have encouraged voters to indicate on their absentee ballot they are indefinitely confined due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing them to avoid having to upload a photo ID. The clerks cited a stay-at-home order Gov. Tony Evers has issued over the COVID-19 threat.

“I think all we need to do is deliver the message to the Milwaukee County clerk and the Dane County clerk that their advice regarding indefinite confinement is wrong,” Republican commission member Robert Spindell said before the votes.

But Democratic commission member Mark Thomsen criticized the commission for even considering the investigations.

“I don’t think we should stain this institution’s reputation wasting time on saying we’re going to criticize two clerks that are doing their best in a crisis,” Thomsen said.

The state Republican Party on Friday asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to intervene in Dane and Milwaukee counties.

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