UPDATE: GOP legislators call for investigation of GAB - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: GOP legislators call for investigation of GAB

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board isn't doing the job it promised to do when it agreed to take over the task of updating the State Voter Registration System from local clerk's offices in 2007.

"The requirement has always been all of those changes are made to the system prior to the February election so that we're able to have a current, updated voter roll for the February primary," said Rep. Vos.  "That's already come and gone."

Now Vos and others want an audit of the agency, while Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) has gone so far as to ask Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to investigate the matter.

"If you look at the name of the GAB, its the Government Accountability Board," said Rep. Vos.  "Well they've definitely got the government part down, but the accountability is sorely lacking and that is exactly what this clearly shows." 

But GAB Spokesperson Reid Magney says state law only says municipal clerks are required to update the system within 90 days, and that the GAB is waiting because many small town clerks don't have the resources to compile their voter lists within that timeframe.
    
"I have heard that too," said Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison).  "They don't have the staff to do what the City of Madison or the County of Dane can do with one person maybe part-time and no staff."

The GAB is suggesting that the law be changed to give such clerks more time.

"I wouldn't even necessarily have a problem with that if they would have come to us, even in the last session," said Vos.  "They did not talk to me.  I can't say they didn't talk to anybody, but they did not talk to me about extending that timeline."

Magney says the GAB did update the system within 90 days after the 2008 election and sent out postcards to people to inform them their voting privileges were being suspended because they hadn't voted in four years.

But because the lists from many of those small towns weren't yet updated, it turned out that thousands who received the postcards had actually voted the previous November.

That's why the GAB now waits until April, but Republicans say the law doesn't allow for them to do that.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Several Republican legislators, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), are calling for an audit of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for their failure to update the State Voter Registration System within the time required by state law.

Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) has gone so far as to request Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to investigate the matter.

But Reid Magney, a spokesperson for the GAB, says nothing in state law specifically requires them to maintain the SVRS.

Within 90 days following any general election, state statute requires municipal clerks or municipal election commissioners to notify people who haven't voted in the past four years that they will have their voter registration suspended.

Magney tells 27 News that in 2007, the GAB agreed to assume the responsibility of mailing out those notices for the municipal clerks, because many of them had not been doing it.

But Magney says the GAB still relies on the clerks to provide them with their voting histories and that many still don't complete that task within 90 days after a general election, due to staffing or funding shortfalls.

Magney says the GAB sent out postcards prior to the 2009 spring election based on inaccurate lists and that a number of suspension notices went to people who had actually voted in the November 2008 election.

Magney says in 2011, the GAB made the decision to wait until after the spring election to send out the notices, so as not to cause confusion.  That is their plan again for 2013.

But Rep. Vos and others say the GAB took on the responsibility to update the SVRS and should be held accountable for updating it in the time specified under state statute.

"The GAB is undermining the integrity of our election process," said Speaker Vos in a statement released on Wednesday.  "GAB officials are intentionally ignoring a state statute and it must stop."

In her letter to the Attorney General, Sen. Vukmir wrote, "The GAB has assumed these responsibilities set out in statute, but have failed to carry out these requirements either through choice or neglect."

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is following this story and will have more on 27 News at 6.

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