Dane County voters were puzzled by Trump’s efforts to throw out the ballots

Molly Beck
Bill Glauber
Patrick Marley

| Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – Kathryn Rogers has lived and voted in eastern Dane County for over 50 years. He is now 82 years old and the president is trying to throw out his ballot.

“It’s ridiculous,” Rogers said Monday. “There aren’t enough adjectives to describe what I mean.”

In a long-running attempt to overthrow the state’s achievements, President Donald Trump has made aggressive efforts in the state’s largest – and most liberal – counties: Dane and Milwaukee to discard tens of thousands of votes cast.

If successful, Rogers ’vote and multiple votes cast in person before the ballots would be thrown out, as well as votes from other categories targeted by the campaign.

Efforts to discard ballots will affect at least 61,000 early voters in at least Dane County, including the county Republican party president.

Rogers, who voted for elected president Joe Biden, decided to vote early with his daughter, Mary, who is about 50 and lives with Kathryn in Marshall – a village of about 4,000 people near the eastern borders of County Dane.

The two voted on Oct. 20, the first day of early voting, in the Marshall City Building in Wisconsin, just a mile from their home.

“We just went down to the clerk’s office. There were no problems,” he said. “I just don’t understand what Republicans mean.”

In Dane and Milwaukee counties, where the recount process took place on Monday, election officials are expected to block efforts to toss wide categories of ballot papers. But the case may end in court.

Although it eliminates ballot papers in some counties, the Trump campaign approach would allow them to count in other counties – even those that tend to hold more personal early voting. Many of these areas favored Trump.

Jim Troupis, a Dane County attorney who leads Trump’s countdown efforts in Wisconsin, has submitted a list of voters to the Dane County Canvassers Board whose votes he says should be invalidated – including his own and his wife.

The move is likely to provide evidence for the campaign in a possible lawsuit to accomplish what the recount effort has not done so far. Presumably, Trump’s team hopes all of this will go to the state Supreme Court, which is held by conservatives.

Five of the seven judges submitted the missing ballot papers, albeit all by post and not by prior personal vote. Chief Patience Roggensack and Justice Rebecca Bradley voted on election day.

If the court – or local election bodies, had ordered the ballot paper to be tossed before it arrived, it would initiate a process that would pull out and reject the random ballot selection from that parish.

John and Renae Feldner (McFarland) also cast their votes on October 20th. John Feldner, 70, a retired high school counselor, said they waited in line for about 10 minutes.

The couple also voted in early 2018.

“Last time they counted, why don’t they count this time?” he said.

He watched the news of the recount and a possible lawsuit, but did not believe the court would drop the early votes.

“If that happens, there will be a lot of problems,” he said.

“The vote was honest and sincere”

Another group of voters targeted by Trump’s campaign during the recount are those who voted in absentia and were “locked in indefinitely”, allowing voters to circumvent the state’s photo ID requirement.

This spring, Scott McDonell, a Danish county official, and George Christenson, a Milwaukee county official, suggested that voters be able to call themselves indefinitely closed if they stay home because of the coronavirus epidemic.

He was sued by the State Republican Party and the state Supreme Court found the council to be flawed. Administrators withdrew their advice and called voters for guidance from the State Election Commission, which noted that voters should determine for themselves whether they are locked indefinitely.

About 215,000 voters ran indefinitely in the November 3 election – up from 72,000 in the state’s highest-ranking election last year.

Trump’s campaign says ballots should be thrown out to all unrestricted voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties, not just those who have evidence that they’re not really limited to their homes. Such votes in other counties, according to their approach, are considered unquestionable.

Two of these voters, Barbara and Eugene Summ of Madison, are in their 80s, living in a 61-year marriage and are said to never miss a chance to vote.

The couple has been absent in recent years and has been registered indefinitely for the past year after Eugene underwent knee replacement.

“It’s awful,” Barbara Summ said of the Republican attempt to throw out their votes. – The word is not democratic.

“I’ve always voted, even in the military,” said Eugene Summ, a retired banker. “I think the vote was honest and sincere. Since this Trump is stirring things up, someone has to kick their butt.

“Who the hell thinks you can start walking around and questioning people’s voices? We voted with sincere effort and sincerity, and then what is cattle?”

Alice Howard, 68, is a long-term community leader in the Madison Allied Drive neighborhood, which is predominantly low-income. Due to physical ailments, he uses a motorized wheelchair and is unlimited.

He was outraged that his vote could be thrown out.

“I don’t think they have a right,” he said. “We all have the privilege of voting as we see fit. No one should try to stop us from voting unless they want to go back to the days of slavery. It is our right and we can choose which way to do it and to no one. we have no right to tell us we can’t.

“I’m not just talking about colorful people,” said Howard, who is black. – I’m talking about all people.

Contradictory views on the process

One of the questions is how voters apply to get ballots when they vote in person early.

Over the past decade, many administrators have used a form filled out by early voters that serves as both an application and a certificate claiming to have voted. The form is printed on the envelope used by voters to vote.

According to the Trump campaign, the form is not a valid application and voters must complete a separate form before receiving a ballot paper.

The form on the ballot envelope was created by state election officials in May 2010 and has been widely used ever since.

Village clerk Jennifer Weyenberg said this is how early voting in Harrox Fox Valley officials has been going on for years.

Among the voters in the village in this way was state representative Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, chairman of the general assembly, who plans to investigate the conduct of the election.

If Trump’s theory of early voting were extended to all areas of the state, Tusler’s vote would not count.

“If (the Wisconsin Electoral Commission) advises our notaries to take measures that do not strictly follow the state statute, then my notary’s procedure may not have been legal,” Tusler said in an email. “I would be very disappointed if my vote didn’t matter because the process recommended by the WEC was illegal. And I would expect many other voters to be very disappointed as well.”

Republican state senator Kathleen Bernier from Hallie Lake said she filled out a separate application before voting in person early in the fall. Bernier, a former Chippewa county clerk, said special applications have long been applied in his territory.

He said he wants to look at how public administrators handle applications. But he questioned whether it was a good idea to throw away thousands of votes the way Trump would like.

“It wouldn’t be fair to me for my vote to be thrown out for a technical reason that the municipal official didn’t follow the right laws,” he said. “In the same way, you have to pay a price for a municipal official who doesn’t follow the law.”

Bernier and Tusler are planning a hearing on the conduct of the elections. At first, it was planned to hold the hearing quickly, but they said they now plan to postpone it until the state’s results are verified on Dec. 1.

Robin Vos, chairman of the GOP General Assembly, said in Rochester that the review would look at the process Milwaukee uses to count absentee votes and its policy of removing voters from the roster if they are suspected to have moved.

Milwaukee-elected officials and other civilian leaders have criticized the Milwaukee focus, followed by the General Assembly and the Trump campaign, as racist.

Before the election, lawmakers refused to allow officials in Milwaukee and elsewhere to count the votes of those absent more quickly. The appellate court found that the electoral roll was properly handled by election officials and the state Supreme Court is reviewing this decision.

Contact Molly Beck, Bill Glauber and Patrick Marley at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]