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No local cost spike expected for voter ID rules

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Frank Schultz
Monday, September 22, 2014

County clerks in Rock and Walworth counties don't expect lots of extra costs to handle the state's new photo ID requirement for voters.

Clerks in Madison and Milwaukee plan to hire hundreds of poll workers and spend thousands of dollars in training and other costs in the weeks ahead, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler, who provides poll worker training for 26 of the county's 28 municipalities, said she doesn't see a need for more poll workers than usual on Election Day, Nov. 4.

City of Janesville Clerk-Treasurer Jean Wulf, whose office trains its own poll workers, said she expects the new rules will take up a little more of the time of poll workers and her office staff.

Wulf's staff already had to send 125 letters to people who had requested absentee ballots before the new rules went into effect. Those people did not send photocopies of their photo IDs, as the law requires, so the clerk's office had to tell them that by mail.

Letters went out Friday, and some people had responded by Monday with copies of their IDs, Wulf said.

Susi Pike, deputy clerk in Walworth County, said she hadn't heard of any municipality planning on extra poll workers, but she said she wouldn't necessarily have heard if any are.

Pike and Stottler said the envelopes used to send absentee ballots had to be changed to comply with the law.

Pike said the state is allowing the addition of stickers or handwritten additions to correct the envelopes. That will be done in Walworth County because the printer used there could not have new envelopes ready until Oct. 10.

Stottler said she planned to buy new envelopes, costing $1,200 to $1,500.

Stottler had already planned poll worker training next month, and she planned to add sessions for those who needed a refresher.

Stottler is a certified state trainer and she works on salary, so the extra training won't cost taxpayers any more, she said.

One new cost depends on whether ballots must be reprinted. Republican legislators have challenged how the ballots were printed, saying they could confuse voters because there is no line separating the name of the office from the first candidate listed.

There is a line, however, between each candidate.

Democrats are listed first in all the races because they got the most votes in the last presidential election.

Republicans appeared first on the ballots two years ago because they had won the most votes in the 2010 race for governor.

A Waukesha County judge is expected to take up the ballot challenge Wednesday.

Stottler formerly had printed the names of the offices on a gray background to make them stand out, but she said the state told her not to do that this year.

Stottler did include a line to separate the name of the office from the first candidate this year, however.

Reprinting Rock County's 83,518 ballots would cost $23,879, Stottler said.

Wulf said she didn't expect much confusion at the polls or during in-person absentee voting at the municipal clerks' offices on Oct. 20-31.

Wulf plans voting hours of 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on those dates except for the 31st, when her City Hall office closes at 5 p.m.

Wulf said some Janesville voters stood in line for two hours to cast absentee ballots in the last presidential election when they could have had a vastly shorter wait if they had voted Election Day.

 

 



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