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Critics question need for Monday ballot count law

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(The Center Square) – Not everyone is on board with the plan to start counting absentee ballots before election day in Wisconsin.

Critics lined up Tuesday to press lawmakers not to approve the so-called Monday count legislation.

Leonard Voltz was one of many who questioned why Wisconsin election clerks need an entire extra day to count absentee ballots.

“The longer the election window is open the longer bad actors are going to have to commit election fraud. It’s that simple,” Voltz said. “They simply have more time to evaluate the number of fraudulent ballots needed to win the election.”

The Monday count plan would allow communities with central count locations to begin counting absentee ballots on the Monday before election day.

Supporters say an early count would avoid the early-morning vote dumps that have become commonplace in Wisconsin elections, particularly in Milwaukee County.

“The real question is do we truly need more time to count the ballots, or do we need more time to redesign a more efficient system for counting the ballots,” Voltz asked.

Voltz was one of many voters who asked for hand-counts of each ballot.

“People’s trust in our elections are at an all-time low, and instead of addressing the multitude of problems with voting machines, bloated voter rolls and WEC violations, you seek to undermine your elections further with [these plans.]” Deb Werner-Allen told the Senate Committee on Elections. “The legislature had three years to secure elections, and they’ve chosen to make things worse.”

Werner-Allen also questioned the need for an early count. But she said she’s worried about election security.

“How do we trust that the absentee ballot count won’t be leaked to make sure a desired outcome occurs?” she asked.

Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, said the idea is not to game the system, but rather to make sure voters can trust the system.

“Results in these elections matter. Also, the appearances matter, too,” Tusler said. “It’s not fair to a losing party to look like they won and to feel like maybe they were cheated. It’s not fair to our clerks, who had nothing to do with Milwaukee’s absentee ballot counting problem, to be questioned whether they have ethically been counting their ballots,” he said.

Sen. Rachael Cabral-Guevara, R-Appleton, also said the perception among some Wisconsin voters that elections are rigged needs to be changed.

“You can understand why people are maybe frustrated or skeptical of a situation,” she said.

Tusler and Cabral-Guevara are the plan’s authors and sponsors.

The Wisconsin Assembly approved the Monday count legislation in early November. The plan is likely headed for a vote in the Senate after the first of the year.

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