Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board plans to respond Tuesday to a group complaining about policies for election observers. The issue is how close observers can be to a voter before they enter the booth.
Some election observers contend they might be too far away to see whether voters registering the day of election have proper proof of residence. A group called Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty wants state election officials to clarify a policy that observers be at least six feet away from a voter. The group's director, Rick Esenberg, says a new rule allowing documents to be shown on smart phones exacerbates the situation, "To say, well, election officials can see, we just need to trust them is inconsistent with the policy choice the legislature has made. The legislature has made clear the public has a right to see public aspects of the voting process."
A different group that's also been observing elections disagrees that poll watchers should be closer than six feet. Ann Jacobs is with Wisconsin Election Protection. She says parts of voter registration are private, "The Government Accountability Board has ruled consistently that what you use as proof of residence is private. I think it’s important to think about what we use as proof of residence. These are very private documents. For example, your bank statement, a Medicare form, a Social Security Disability form."
Standards for election observers were implemented after the 2004 elections. Jacobs says there were instances of voter intimidation both physical and verbal.