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Questions have been raised and erroneous statements have been made about the Attorney Generals plans to provide election day observers at various locations throughout the state.
The Attorney General and Department of Justice have express authority to enforce the states election laws, including those laws that govern what happens on election day. In the recent lawsuit the non-partisan Government Accountability Board expressly conceded that the Attorney General and Department of Justice have enforcement authority over the conduct of elections.
....In addition to this authority under section 5.07 of the Wisconsin Statutes, the Attorney General and Department of Justice have express authority to assist and advise district attorneys and local law enforcement. One emphasis of this part of our work is to provide resources in areas that are outside the normal operations of these local officials. The fact is that district attorneys and local law enforcement agencies do not deal with election law issues on a daily basis and do not have the same level of expertise as they do in other matters. Locating Department of Justice staff around the state will ensure that we are available to assist local District Attorneys and law enforcement in the event they have questions or request assistance on election related issues.
Our office, together with the Government Accountability Board and local voting officials, have an important role in making sure that elections are conducted fairly and smoothly. The Attorney General takes this role seriously.
On November 4, 2008, Department of Justice representatives will be at various election sites as observers. Election sites are public places and state law expressly permits election observers on site. These observersincluding any representatives of the Department of Justice--are subject to specific rules established by the Government Accountability Board. The Departments elections team has been trained in these rules and will comply with them.
The practice of providing election day observers is a tradition started four years ago by former Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager. The materials used to train the current observers are based in large part on materials prepared by the Lautenschlager administration and the Government Accountability Board.
It is curious that neither Governor Doyle nor the Democratic Party of Wisconsin raised these concerns about the Attorney Generals authority to observe at the polling places when former Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager initiated similar activities four years ago.