Voter-location issues might be easing

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
— The situation of thousands of potential voters around the state has improved since last week.

County clerks were reporting that many registered voters' addresses were being improperly placed by the state's voter-mapping system. Some addresses showed up thousands of miles away because of data glitches.

Other addresses were placed on the wrong sides of municipal boundaries. Those included some who live close to the line dividing the city of Janesville and Harmony Township, according to a lengthy memo from the state Government Accountability Board that was sent to municipal clerks Friday.

The memo addressed concerns county clerks raised in the news media. Local and county clerks are tasked with correcting the data.

Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said the memo included good news, including the fact that clerks can submit data from their own mapping systems to show correct address placement, and the state will try to fix it.

Stottler has submitted her data but had not yet heard back as of Monday afternoon.

The state now will permit clerks who have gone through the state training to train others and get them temporarily certified to access the state mapping database to correct mistakes, Stottler said.

Previously, the state would allow only trained, certified workers to access the data.

Stottler said she received several offers of volunteer help after last week's Gazette story about the situation, and she hopes to have two volunteers at work correcting state data this weekend.

Stottler said she still can't promise that every voter will be listed in the correct poll book, but she expects the problem won't be as widespread as she had feared.

For those whose names are not properly recorded, poll workers will have a tax database that will help them place the voter in the proper voting districts, Stottler said.

Some voters might still have to re-register on the Feb. 21 primary election day just to ensure their votes can't be challenged, Stottler said.

Walworth County Clerk Kim Bushey, meanwhile, said she also has been dealing with voters' addresses improperly placed by the state mapping system, but the situation was never as dire as next door in Rock County.

One reason Bushey is having fewer problems is that she is responsible for only two municipalities. The rest of the municipalities in Walworth County handle their own voter mapping. Stottler is responsible for 18 municipalities.

Bushey has not heard of any extreme difficulties at any Walworth County municipality.

Stottler is recommending the various cities, villages and towns send out postcards to households of registered voters, telling them where they vote and what offices they will vote for, in the wake of the decennial redistricting, which will mean changes in representation and polling places for some voters.

Stottler said the postage alone for areas she is responsible for would cost $14,000. She doesn't know if all municipalities will follow suit, she said.

Last updated: 7:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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