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Bewley bill gains Senate approval

The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill that will allow city council, and town or village board members to serve as poll workers on Election Day.

The bill, written by Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Delta, and Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, creates a legal path back to a practice that was common before 2016.

The practice was discontinued after an attorney for the League of Wisconsin Municipalities pointed out it was illegal for local officials to serve at the polls.

"I want to thank Rep. Subeck for inviting me to co-author this bill," Bewley said. "Whether it's in the city of Madison or a village in Northwestern Wisconsin, it is imperative for our polling locations to be well-staffed with individuals who have prior experience and institutional knowledge. The bill's authors include members of both parties and it is supported by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin."

Current law prohibits the governing body of a municipality from holding another office or position within the city, village or town they represent, with three narrow exceptions. Assembly Bill 85 adds serving as an election official to that list of exemptions. The bill does not remove the current prohibition that prevents an elected official from serving as an election official when his or her name is on the ballot.

"Voters deserve elections that run smoothly," Bewley said. "In Northwestern Wisconsin, it is hard enough for small communities to recruit enough poll workers for Election Day. This bill will ease a burden on our local communities, and I'm pleased to have worked with Rep. Subeck to get this done. I hope Gov. (Scott) Walker signs the bill soon."