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WI democracy group: Don't be deterred by more election chaos

Voting concept - Ballot box with national flag on background - Wisconsin
niyazz - stock.adobe.com
Voting concept - Ballot box with national flag on background - Wisconsin

With a few weeks left before the midterm elections, a flurry of legal wrangling continues in Wisconsin over such matters as absentee ballots. A pro-democracy group says despite these political fights, voters should feel reassured about going to the polls.

Republican leaders have tried, and in some cases succeeded, to limit certain facets of processing absentee ballots. It follows a summer in which Wisconsin captured more national attention over fallout from the 2020 presidential election.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said the most important thing to remember is that voting in the Badger State remains safe and secure.

"Don't let that smoke and fog get in your eyes, and keep your eyes clear," he said, "that voting is your right and your freedom here in our democracy that shouldn't be messed with."

The tension over how to oversee voting has been visible within the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. Despite the friction, Rothschild said the panel still plays a key role in maintaining free and fair elections. His group is nonpartisan, but Rothschild said voters should be mindful that some conservative candidates want to overhaul the commission.

Republicans in support of tighter restrictions or dramatic procedural changes have cited the need for restoring "voting integrity." But Rothschild said voters should instead be reminded of ways to cast their ballot correctly in a system he said has proved its effectiveness.

"We don't want to give anybody an excuse to throw away a legitimately cast ballot by a citizen of Wisconsin," he said.

He said one way to avoid any hiccups is to make sure you're registered to vote and the information is current. As for an absentee ballot, he stressed that looking it over a few times in case anything was missed in filling it out, including getting witness signatures.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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