It used to be that if you wanted to do voter registration in Wisconsin you could get trained by the Government Accountability Board as a Special Registration Deputy(SRD), be assigned an SRD number, and then travel anywhere in Wisconsin to register voters. Not anymore.
The Voter Photo ID law stripped the GAB of any authority to train SRD’s and leaves it in the hands of town and municipal clerks who, as a by product of the law, now have sole authority on these matters.
Some town and municipal clerks are very accommodating, such as Donna Austad in the city of Eau Claire, and Town of Washington Clerk Janelle Henning. Ms. Austad agreed to do an SRD training several weeks ago for roughly 25 of us who intend to canvass low income neighborhoods regarding the Badgercare expansion and minimum wage referendum questions on the Eau Claire County November ballot, and Ms. Henning agreed to honor that training and appointed ten of us as SRD’s in her township. But not every clerk is cooperative.
Meet Deb Grinde, Town of Brunswick clerk. Ms. Grinde has unilaterally decided that not only will she not honor our training from the City of Eau Claire, which borders the Town of Brunswick, she’s not going to appoint any SRD’s, period. So a town or municipal clerk now has the authority to stop dead in its tracks any voter registration drive that any organization or group of concerned citizens may want to mount in that jurisdiction.
When I pressed Ms. Grinde for a rationale behind her refusal to appoint any of us as SRD’s, she said she felt that voter registration information was already well publicized in the Town of Brunswick, in spite of the fact that the town has no website and, I’m told by a resident there, no newsletter.
This is, in my view, the kind of voter suppression the GOP was after when they passed the Voter Photo ID bill, and I think it’s a goddamned disgrace.
So do me a favor and call Deb Grinde at 1-715-834-7307 and tell her what you think, or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then contact your legislator and tell them we need to change the law so that if qualified Wisconsin voters want to register their friends and neighbors to vote, a town or municipal clerk can’t stand in the way.