State gets high marks on election integrity

Good news sometimes comes from unexpected places.

While Wisconsin continues to roil with debates and seemingly endless probes of the 2020 presidential election, state election clerks, poll workers and other election officials received a feather in their caps recently with high marks for election security and integrity.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank and advocacy group, ranked Wisconsin eighth in the nation in its election integrity scorecard, which compares state election laws and regulations based on how they impact the security and integrity of the processes based on the foundation’s best-practices recommendations.

Wisconsin received a 20 out of 20 score on voter ID implementation and an overall score of 74 out of 100 to tie it with South Carolina among the top tier of states in conducting the 2020 election.

The Heritage Foundation report compared states in 12 different categories of election-related issues including accuracy of voter registration lists, absentee ballot management, vote harvesting restrictions, access of election observers, verification of citizenship, identification for voter assistance, vote counting practices, election litigation procedures, restrictions of same-day registration, restrictions of automatic registrations and restriction on private funding of election officials or government agencies.

Yes, Wisconsin got zero points on that last category — after receiving $10 million in grants from the Chicago-based Center for Tech and and Civic Life funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that Republicans say were used to unfairly increase turnout in Democratic strongholds, including Racine.

State courts and state election officials found nothing illegal about the donations, but they continue to be a focus of the Vos-Gableman investigation that is now sliding into 2022.

Remarkably, the Heritage Foundation report also gave high marks to another state that has been embroiled in post-election disputes. Georgia was ranked tops in election security and integrity with a score of 83 points.

The Heritage Foundation report was not without its advocacy package. It gave states 11 proposed cookie cutter legislation items (just drop in the name of your state in the blank) that would ban Zuckerberg-like contributions to local elections, increase scrutiny of voter registration lists and require monthly cross-referencing them with DMV lists, Dept. of Corrections lists, vital records, public assistance rolls and county tax records to make sure no one is living in a commercial building.

The Heritage Foundation’s proposed legislative package would also clamp down on absentee ballots and maintains “In-person voting is the preferred method of voting within (state).” It would only allow absentee ballots if someone is going to be out of state on election day or early voting days or has a disability.

That might be a hard sell in Wisconsin where nearly 2 million of its 3.3 million voters – 60% — decided to vote absentee during the Covid-challenged 2020 election year.

Our hope is that whatever election procedures or changes are made that they be done well in advance of the next election day so that voters are not whipsawed by changing rules, last-minute court decisions or conflicting advice as happened that year.

Meanwhile, the state’s election clerks, poll workers and others who helped can celebrate their good security and integrity report card. Good job. Now brace yourselves for the next round of elections.


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