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Clerks warn GOP primary plan ‘impossible’ to implement

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Local clerks are balking at Republican plans to move Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential primary, saying the proposed change would lead to so many headaches it would be impossible to carry out.

Two elections are now scheduled for spring 2020 — a February primary for the conservative state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly’s seat and local offices and a general election in April. The presidential primary is scheduled to be part of the April general election, but Republican leaders are mulling whether to move the presidential primary to March. They’re afraid the presidential primary will draw so many Democrats to the polls in April that Kelly could lose.

GOP legislative leaders are considering using a lame-duck session before the end of the year to pass a bill to move the presidential contest. Gov. Scott Walker supports the idea.

Municipal clerks told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that scheduling a third election in a three-month span would lead to too many complications.

They say they would have to process absentee ballots for different elections simultaneously, running the risk that some ballots would get lost. Poll workers also would have to work an extra election, a dicey proposition since recruiting such workers is already difficult, the clerks said.

Some clerks would have to buy more memory cards for voting machines to preserve results for one election while programming the devices for the next contest.

Voters also would be confused, they said.

“From my perspective, it would be virtually impossible for any county clerk to do all we need to get ready from an election in that scenario,” Waukesha County Clerk Kathleen Novack said of the prospect of adding an election in March 2020. “There isn’t anyone among the 72 county clerks who thinks it even has a shred of a possibility to be done logistically.”

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