The Wisconsin Elections Commission administers and enforces Wisconsin laws regarding elections. The Commission has jurisdiction to investigate complaints involving actions of local election officials.
Complaints Within the Commission’s Jurisdiction
The Commission investigates violations of laws under its jurisdiction and may prosecute alleged civil violations of those laws. Prosecution of alleged criminal violations investigated by the Commission may be brought only by a district attorney or the Attorney General. Complaints involving the following parties and subjects may be filed with the Commission:
- Local election officials. An elector of a jurisdiction may file a Complaint alleging that an election official of that jurisdiction has violated the law or abused the official’s discretion with respect to any matter concerning nominations, qualifications of candidates, voting qualifications, including residence, ward division and renumbering, recall, ballot preparation, election administration or conduct of elections. See §5.06. A complaint challenging a decision of a local election official must be filed promptly so as not to prejudice the rights of other parties. A complaint related to nominations, qualifications of candidates, or ballot preparation must be filed no later than ten days after the complainant knew or should have known that a violation of law or abuse of discretion occurred.
- Complaints regarding actions of a local election official must be sworn under oath. The complainant must also serve the respondent with a copy of the complaint by mail or in person and certify to that service in a cover letter to the Board filed with the complaint. An individual must file a complaint with the Board before commencing any court action involving the complaint. Complaints involving actions or decisions of local election officials are governed by the procedures in the Wisconsin Administrative Code, Chapter GAB 20.
- Compliance with federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Whenever any person believes that a violation of HAVA has occurred, is occurring, or is proposed to occur with respect to an election for national office in Wisconsin, that person may file a written, verified complaint with the Board. See §5.061, Stats.
How to File a Complaint
Please complete the following form to file a formal complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Complaint Form (click here)
Complaints Outside the Commission’s Jurisdiction
The Commission does not have the authority to investigate or enforce other laws regarding actions of public bodies and officials. For instance, the Commission does not accept or investigate complaints involving the following:
- Open Meetings and Public Records Laws – Contact the Wisconsin Department of Justice at 608-266-1221 or visit its web site.
- Code of Judicial Conduct – Contact the Wisconsin Judicial Commission at 608-266-7637, or visit its web site.
- Campaign Finance Violations Involving Elections for Local Office – Contact the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, which has concurrent jurisdiction with district attorneys regarding these matters.
- Compliance with Campaign Finance Laws -- Contact the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.
- Compliance with Lobbying Laws – Contact the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.
- Code of Ethics for State Public Officials – Contact the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.
- Code of Ethics for Local Public Officials – Contact the district attorney in the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred.