Clerks face time crunch after redistricting decision

Clerks Face Time Crunch after Redistricting Decision
La Crosse County clerk Ginny Dankmeyer describes the work ahead for election clerks across the state. Following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s last-minute ruling to use Republicans’ legislative voter maps, clerks are now crunched for time to readjust boundaries so candidates can seek signatures for their nomination papers.

Transcript

Frederica Freyberg:

The ruling a week ago from the Wisconsin Supreme Court to side with Republican redistricting maps came down as the high court simply ran out of time. Now, the state’s clerks have to pick up the slack and adjust for things like wards being split apart. La Crosse County clerk Ginny Dankmeyer joins us to describe more. Thanks very much for being here.

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

Thank you for having me.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

So, what are the practical implications for election clerks of the new maps that the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a week ago.

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

What we have to do at this point is get them into WiscVote so we can let the voters know what districts they are in. More importantly so they know who their constituents are. Who the people are circulating papers And then on our end, we have to prepare. We have elections coming up this fall. We have ballots we need to prepare for. The August ballots have to be out at the end of the June. So we need to see where these ward lines are. We need to find out what ward are split. Do municipalities have to go back and create new ward lines, pass new resolutions. It’s a lot of work on our end to make sure everything’s finalized so we can get these ballots ready for the fall elections.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

A lot of work. How different are the maps drawn by Governor Evers from the maps drawn by the Republicans in the legislature?

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

I really think that varies based on the districts and the areas you lived in. For La Crosse County they didn’t vary too much. I believe with the GOP maps we gained one Assembly district and a Senate district. Whereas if we kept the Evers map, we would have had the same Assembly districts. We would have added one to the south. For us, the changes were very minimal. They followed the municipal lines for us. It came through pretty good for us. I think no matter map you went with; it would have been easy for us to keep moving forward in preparing for the fall elections.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

So if the legislature’s maps were adopted under the ‘least change’ approach to the old maps which they were. Do you think that reduces the amount of work? Could it have been more different?

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

I definitely think there were probably some maps out there that could have caused a lot more work. If you’re splitting municipalities down the middle. If you’re splitting wards all over. That’s a lot more work on our end. That’s a lot more work for the municipalities to get those new wards listed and it’s a lot confusion at polling place. Instead of an entire municipality being one Assembly district, now parts of it will be this Assembly district, parts are going to be here. You’re going to have multiple ballot styles, making sure the poll workers are giving out correct ballot styles. And it’s clean if we follow the ward lines, the municipal lines, and make it simpler for the voters and the poll workers more importantly.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

So how would you describe the roller coaster of redistricting decisions for clerks.

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

It’s been a fun ride. All we can do is tighten our seat belts and go with it. We don’t have a lot of say in it. We just have to sit back and wait until the decisions are made Once the decisions are made, then have to move   forward and get done what we have to get done. It’s nothing new for us. There’s a lot of times new laws that are enacted days, weeks before elections. And we just go with it. I think you have to be prepared for that. If you are a clerk, whether municipal county clerk, changes are coming and we’re going to figure out what those changes and we’re going to move forward. That’s all we can really do about it.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

We talked about voters, but what about for candidates now able to gather signatures to run for office. Are clerks fielding questions from them?

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

We’re fielding questions from any officer or any candidate that’s going to be filed in our office. A lot of the Assembly, the Senate congressionals, they’re following — filing papers with the elections commission. They’ll be getting questions and answers through them. Luckily for us, our constitutional officers are up this fall. It’s the entire county so there’s not a lot of lines to deal that we have to deal with. They know it’s within the county, they can circulate their papers. It was a big decision because on April 15th is when they could start circulating their papers, and if you delayed that, that was less time for them to get their signatures needed to get their name on the ballot.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

Right at the last minute. So heading into 2022 elections, has the abuse of clerks resulting from the tumult of the 2020 election stopped or lessened?

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

I think it’s lessened a little bit. There’s still groups out there, still people out there, that want to kind of attack what we’re doing, and challenge that we’re not secure, we’re doing this or that. I think a lot of people are starting to understand how this works. We’re doing as much outreach we can to the public on this is how secure elections are, this is what we do, and hope people can start to understand it. We’re always open to questions. I am always open to do presentations to help the people understand what we’re doing to make sure these elections are secure, they’re with the outmost integrity, and people can trust when they go to the polls and vote that their ballot is going to be counted.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

And what about changes around voting rules on such things as ballot drop boxes and other procedures that have been the subject of investigations and vitriol. How are clerks keeping up with those changing rules?

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

That’s just like everything else. February election, you could use drop boxes. April election, you couldn’t. We work with our clerks to make sure they get that information out. We did media releases to all of the public. I did as much interviews as we could. Let the papers know, the TV stations, know that the drop boxes are not allowed. And the clerks put notes on the drop boxes to let people know you can’t be using these. It was just one of those changes we work with as they come along, and deal with it and move forward and try to get as much education as we can to the voters out there so they know what the new laws are.

 

Frederica Freyberg:

Thank you very much and thank you for your work, Ginny Dankmeyer.

 

Ginny Dankmeyer:

Thank you.


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