Henry Redman

State Republicans Want Citizens Under Guardianship Off Voter Rolls

Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition opposes idea, along with state Democrats.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Sep 21st, 2022 11:36 am
Rep. Janel Brandtjen | Facebook

Rep. Janel Brandtjen | Facebook

Last week, Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature sent a letter to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) demanding that the agency direct municipal clerks to remove anyone under a guardianship order who has been adjudicated incompetent from the statewide voter lists known as WisVote.

The effort, led by Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) and Sen. Andre Jacque (R-DePere), was joined by 14 other legislators, including some of the most right-wing members of the Legislature. The letter was sent to the WEC on Sept. 15.

Brandtjen spearheaded the effort following a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, which she chairs, in which right-wing attorney and election conspiracist Erick Kaardal appeared without any rebuttal to testify about his belief that the state’s voter lists are mismanaged.

Kaardal’s testimony mostly focused on the Electronic Information Registration Center (ERIC), a national organization of which Wisconsin is a member, that tracks when voters have moved to another state or died. He also returned to his regular complaint about the maintenance of the voter rolls. Kaardal made a prominent appearance in widely criticized videos published by the recently fired 2020 election investigator, Michael Gableman, in which Kaardal and Gableman interview apparently confused nursing home residents about their voting habits.

“We only want the best for our citizens under guardianship care and do not want them taken advantage of by easily being persuaded into voting for specific candidates,” the letter states. “Issuing a ballot when individuals have been put under the protection of a court-ordered guardianship is unprofessional and inappropriate. WEC is permitting this to happen knowing that these individuals can be identified on CCAP, yet are not removed from the WisVote system. WEC is literally condoning elder abuse.”

Democrats and advocates for the disabled immediately pushed back on the claims made in the letter.

“Hell NO,” Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) wrote in an email, obtained by the Wisconsin Examiner, responding to Brandtjen’s request for signatories on the letter.

Brandtjen responded, writing “For the record, you’re okay with people who are under guardianship and declared incompetent to receive ballots?”

Erpenbach replied that Brandtjen’s demand would result in people being wrongly disenfranchised.

“What I’m NOT ok with, is disenfranchising voters,” he wrote back.

Erpenbach attached a letter from the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition (WDVC) pushing back on claims made in the Republicans’ letter.

“The September 15th letter seems to suggest that guardianship automatically means the ward cannot vote, and that therefore everyone with a guardian should be removed from voting rolls,” the WDVC wrote. “This is not true.”

Brandtjen, however, tells the Wisconsin Examiner that she thinks the disability advocates agree with her and that it’s not unreasonable to ask the WEC to make sure people who have been declared incompetent by a judge and therefore have lost their right to vote actually can’t cast a ballot.

“We agree, that’s why I tried to be as clear as possible,” Brandtjen says. “It’s guardianships and people listed as incompetent, [WDVC] does mention, of course we don’t want people to be taken advantage of.”

“However WEC wants to manage it is fine; they need to do the job,” she continues. “It’s a realistic expectation.”

For the last two years, Republicans have frequently alleged there are problems with how the WEC maintains the voter lists, arguing that the agency doesn’t properly track when people move, die or are declared incompetent.

The agency has issued corrections stating that there is a difference between the massive statewide voter lists that maintain a record of every active and inactive voter file and the poll books that are used to track active voters and when they cast a ballot in an election. People with inactive voter files, including anyone who is declared incompetent, won’t be listed in the poll books on Election Day.

Republicans continue dispute over guardianship and voter rolls was originally published by Wisconsin Examiner

9 thoughts on “State Republicans Want Citizens Under Guardianship Off Voter Rolls”

  1. 45 years in the City says:

    In election inspector training, we learned that only a judge could declare someone incompetent to vote. It was unclear whether this meant a general declaration of incompetency, or a specific declaration of their inability to vote.

    Regardless, the republican proposal sends us into a dangerous area (broad and arbitrary declarations of people or classes of people as inferior) – an area best avoided.

    There are other procedures in the system to insure competency at the polls. These include a limit on spoiled ballots (a voter who cannot correctly complete a ballot after 3 attempts will be sent away). Anyone who is disruptive can also be sent away.

  2. fred@fredbellpaintings.com says:

    If Republicans had any good ideas they would not be so concerned about stopping citizens from voting. The party is dying a slow death.

  3. GodzillakingMKE says:

    I think we need to help the nazi party cannabilize itself.

  4. A mental competency status examination question sometimes used is: “Who is the President of the United States?”

  5. Thomas Sepllman says:

    Now a legislator who can not read the law and know the guardianship process is not of much use. A petition is filed for guardianship and most often it concerns a persons ability to take care of themselves. Nothing to do with being incompetent. Now some of those individuals are incompetent ie IQ’s of 15 to 30 or more. How many folks in WI have guardians to begin with 15,000 or more? There would have to reopen every guardianship to figure out who can vote and who can not and what are the criteria? A can of worms for a group that probably splits between the two parties.

  6. Mingus says:

    If Republicans are successful in arbitrarily singling out one group to deny them the right to vote, they could easily go and classify other groups of persons based on anything from religious preferences, LGBTQ, or any other group of persons who might not vote Republican. I find it ironic that the judicial originalists who distort the Second Amendment to give most anyone the right own assault rifles while ignoring the fact that there are three constitutional amendments on voting when they rule on voting rights and gerrymandering.

  7. julia o'connor says:

    Would Rep Brandtjen also support a restriction on voters with a BMI over 30?

  8. kaygeeret says:

    Once again, the republicans follow a quasi nazi plan.

    Beneath contempt

  9. frank a schneiger says:

    It was probably just a matter of time, especially in Wisconsin, now one of the centers of otherization. If you think of progress in our lifetimes, it has focused on inclusion, protecting the rights of groups that were historically excluded, discriminated against or otherized in America: women, racial minorities/immigrants from the wrong countries, LGBTQ people and those with disabilities.

    Starting with white backlash, the reactionary movement has sought to roll back the gains that all of these groups have made. The Republican Party has become the party of reaction, the home for sexists, racists, homophobes, nativists, and, now, the party that wants to put people with disabilities “back in their place.” For example, people would say that they supported Trump “despite” his being a sexual predator or ridiculing people with disabilities. The reality, for many, is that they support him “because” of it.

    To say that a country is a cruel country, or that a state is a cruel state, does not mean that all of the people are cruel. But it does mean that cruel people are in power. Racial bigotry has long been a driver in Wisconsin politics, as seen in the Republican anti-Barnes ads, But, in the end, all of the bigotries blend together, the ones listed above, plus invariably anti-Semitism.

    It’s taken awhile, but now the people with disabilities card has come up. When you think of the Republican Party, the party of Trump, it was just a matter of time. And, for many of them, cruelty isn’t just a byproduct. It’s the whole point.

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