UPDATE: May 7, The LaCrosse County DA has asked the Onalaska, WI Police Department to investigate. A detective has been assigned to the case.
Madison, WI. During election season in Wisconsin it is common for legislative staffers to take a leave of absence and work on campaigns around the state. For a couple of months they are assigned to a candidate who may not live in their home district, and in many cases, act as campaign managers.
In November of 2010 a republican legislative staffer, who in the past has worked for Rep. Mike Huebsch(Now DOA Secretary) and currently works for Rep. Warren Petryk, was assigned to the Dennis Clinard campaign in LaCrosse, WI. This staffer owns a home in Madison where she has lived for several years.
On election day, Nov. 2nd, 2010, she posted on Facebook that she “just voted for Walker, Kapanke, Huebsch, Johnson and Van Hollen. Go Team!”. Wait a minute…Kapanke? Onalaska Wisconsin?
Edited version of FB conversation to protect identity of participants. M is the subject.
But she lives in Madison, not Onalaska. Her statement caught my attention because I wondered how someone who resides in Madison could vote in a district over 100 miles from their primary residence. Good question, right? Especially since Governor Walker and our Republican State Legislature, her colleagues, are making so much noise about fair elections and pushing a mean-spirited Voter ID bill that has the very real possibility of disenfranchising thousands of seniors, students and minorities in order to facilitate the creation of a permanent conservative majority.
The Wisconsin Voter ID Bill, or AB 7, is set to become one of the most restrictive Voter ID bills in the nation for its special crackdown on students. If it passes, in 2012 voters will need to produce a drivers license, a state ID, a passport or naturalization papers, a military ID or Native American tribal ID in order to vote. A student ID would no longer be an acceptable form of identification. It will make it difficult for out-of-state students to vote on their college campuses where they live nine months out of the year.
I happen to be a Facebook friend of the wandering Republican legislative staffer in question. Back in November when she posted the information, I called her on it. She asserted that she “was living there”. Not true. She was temporarily residing in Onalaska knowing that she would be returning to Madison the day after the elections as evidenced by her additional facebook post; “Will finally be home in approx. 16 hours! Watch out Lake Point!” Watch out indeed.
Here is a link to the Wisconsin State Elections Handbook. The following is excerpted from pages 37 and 38:
2. Temporary Absence.
a. Residency is not lost when a person leaves home and goes to another
country, state, county, town, village, or ward temporarily with intent
to return home. Residency cannot be established in any ward, town,
village or city in this state while living there temporarily.
This activity begs the question: Is it common for GOP staffers to vote in districts where they are temporarily working on campaigns in order to give a little boost to their candidate? This is what absentee ballots are designed for. In light of recent extremely close contests, such as the 163 vote victory of Rep. Randy Hopper over Democrat Jessica King, is it conceivable that a “Mobile GOP Voting Strike Force” could potentially sway elections? What stops a large corporation, say, Koch Industries, from subsidizing apartments for a month or so where folks could claim residency in critical state elections. That scenario might sound a bit far fetched, but is it possible? Sure.
Before the GOP endeavors to disenfranchise voters with this bill, perhaps they should police their own operatives to make sure they remember where they reside at election time.