Yesterday, the State Senate passed Assembly Bill 85, authored by Senator Janet Bewley (D – Delta) and Representative Lisa Subeck (D – Madison), which will allow municipal officials to serve as election officials. Prior to 2016, many City Council and Village or Town Board members served as poll workers on Election Day. The practice was discontinued after an attorney from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities pointed out that the practice was prohibited under state law.
“I want to thank Representative Subeck for inviting me to co-author this bill,” said Senator Bewley. “Whether it’s in the City of Madison or a village in Northwestern Wisconsin, it is imperative for our polling locations to be well-staffed with individuals who have prior experience and institutional knowledge. The bill’s authors include members of both parties and it is supported by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.”
Current law prohibits the governing body of a municipality from holding another office or position within the city, village or town that they represent, with three narrow exceptions. Assembly Bill 85 adds serving as an election official to that list of exemptions. The bill does not remove the current prohibition that prevents an elected official from serving as an election official when his or her name is on the ballot.
“Voters deserve elections that run smoothly,” said Senator Bewley. “In Northwestern Wisconsin, it is hard enough for small communities to recruit enough poll workers for Election Day. This bill will ease a burden on our local communities and I’m pleased to have worked with Representative Subeck to get this done. I hope Governor Walker signs the bill soon.”