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Separate Teams of Federal Observers to Visit Wisconsin for the State’s September 9 Primary Election

September 3, 2008

MADISON – Representatives of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) will both visit Wisconsin during the statewide partisan primary election next week.

EAC staff, including EAC Executive Director Thomas Wilkey, will visit Milwaukee and Madison to monitor the election administration and voting process in Wisconsin. The delegation will also include EAC Research Director Karen Lynn-Dyson and EAC Deputy Research Director Shelley Anderson. The EAC is the federal granting agency from which Wisconsin receives funds to support elections administration activities.

“Wisconsin’s elections process is well-respected,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. “This is the second visit of the EAC to our state in two years and we plan to show our guests the transparent and efficient work of our local election officials.”

In May, Wisconsin, through the Government Accountability Board, was one of five states to receive a $2 million dollar competitive grant. The purpose of the grant is to improve the state’s election data collection practices, including the gathering, counting, retrieval, analysis and reporting of accurate election results. During their visit, EAC representatives will converse with state elections officials about the status of the elections data collection project.

Officials from the GAO’s Chicago office also will visit Wisconsin to carry out a pilot review of compliance with federal requirements for polling place accessibility. They will inspect and evaluate polling places in southeastern Wisconsin to determine how accessible Wisconsin municipalities are making voting facilities and equipment to disabled voters.

GAO staff will visit five rural and urban polling places in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine counties: The Town of Burlington (Racine), Town of Salem (Kenosha), and the Westside Academy I, Highland Gardens, and the Cudahy YMCA (Milwaukee).

“All polling places must be accessible to all voters in Wisconsin,” said Nat Robinson, Elections Division Administrator. “We are working hard to make sure that people with disabilities can vote privately, confidentially and independently at polling places on Election Day. The presence of the GAO underscores our agenda for open, fair and transparent voting for everyone,” Robinson continued.

GAO representatives also visited Wisconsin for two-days earlier this year and collaborated extensively with Director Kennedy, Administrator Robinson, Elections Administration Specialist for Voting Systems Ross Hein, and local election officials to review detailed procedures and standards for use of voting equipment in the state. Those discussions focused on voting systems’ certification and testing, post-election audits and security measures.