Dane County Clerk Announces New Voting Rules for 2006
September 07, 2006
Federal registration requirements for same-day voters plus new machines for voters with disabilities are among the changes Dane County Clerk Robert Ohlsen says await voters this September primary.
“There are new laws under the Help America Vote Act, which primarily will affect the smaller communities,” Ohlsen told a Thursday news conference in the City-County Building. “Voters will need to register even though they likely will feel as though they are already registered because they have voted there for years.”
As part of the requirements mandated in the federal 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA), voters will be required to complete an official voter registration form. Municipalities smaller than 5,000 residents were not required to enforce registration prior to HAVA.
The law requires any voter with a valid driver’s license to provide that license number to election workers. “If the person does not have a driver’s license, the voter may provide the last four digits of their Social Security number,” Ohlsen said. “Or the voter also may provide a Wisconsin ID card.”
“There are about 11 items a voter may use to meet the proof of residency requirement,” Ohlsen said, adding this includes a lease, utility bill, bank statement or pay check.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said it is important all voters are familiar with the new process.
"If voters are not prepared, the new federal laws could make voting in all of our communities inconvenient. But if voters know what to expect, voting can go very smoothly,” she said. “County Clerk Ohlsen and all of our local clerks throughout Dane County have done a great job of preparing for these federal election changes.”
A voter who has a driver’s license but not with them at the time of voting may use a provisional ballot that will be placed in a sealed and signed envelope.
“The voter has until 4 p.m. the following day to provide the driver license number and at that time, the vote will be counted,” Ohlsen said, stressing election results are not official until the canvas is completed. “So an outcome could be affected.”
Once a voter is registered, Ohlsen said, the individual’s information is entered into a statewide voter system. “The goal is to create a system able to track if a person has registered in two communities,” he said.
Another change implemented for the first time on September 12 will be the use of new machines for voters with disabilities. Ohlsen said the federal law required these machines be put in use by this year.
“People with disabilities will be able to vote by using a touch screen, a key pad or a sip-and-puff method,” Ohlsen said, noting the last option will be available to those who supply their own equipment.
Dane County purchased 150 of the machines – one for each polling location in 60 municipalities. Each machine cost $4,950 and the federal government will reimburse the county for the $754,000 price tag.
“The hard-working clerks in our Dane County communities are trained and ready for the new system,” Ohlsen said. “I am confident it will go well.”
All of the voting changes are detailed on the County Clerk’s Web site, www.countyofdane.com/coclerk/howvote.htm.
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Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive, 608-267-8823