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ELECTION LAWSUIT COULD COMPLICATE NOVEMBER VOTE
Friday, September 12th, 2008 -- 1:48 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director


This Novemberís election could get messy.

The reason: a lawsuit filed against the Wisconsin election authority by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen demanding officials verify voters' identities by the tens of thousands before Election Day.

Van Hollen is a Republican and the co-chair of Sen. John McCainís Wisconsin campaign. The lawsuit follows a letter from the Wisconsin Republican Party to the Government Accountability Board requesting the checks.

If a judge sides with Van Hollen, the head of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association says it will be a "nightmare" for frustrated voters and poll workers.

But, Van Hollen says a rule is a rule. He contends the lawsuit is needed to make sure the state follows federal election laws to prevent ineligible people from voting.

Clark County Clerk Christina Jensen says local clerks have been laboring on the voter registration lists for a long time. Itís an added workload.

Most of the discrepancies that have arisen during tests of the system, which matches voter registration with DOT records, are because of innocent errors or typos.

"Now that they're up and running with DOT, the matches aren't correct because you need to put your name in exactly how it is on your driver's license," Jensen explains, "When people registered the last three or four years, they weren't doing that exactly the same. They were putting in a middle name instead of a middle initial, and things like that."

Jensen, also a Republican, says the lawsuit isnít realistic and could cost people the ability to vote.

"There's no way we could get through all these records and update it before the November Election. We don't want to disenfranchise people from voting just because their name doesn't match what the DOT has," Jensen says.

It appears Van Hollenís lawsuit would force people that have registered since 2006 to re-register and bring ID and proof of residence to the polls in November.

Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 in response to the election chaos that engulfed Florida in 2000. The law required states to create voter databases that could compare voter information to driver, felon and death records.

The databases were supposed to be running by Jan. 1, 2006, but Wisconsinís wasnít fully functional until last month.

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