- deputize advocates of the school bond issue to hand out and collect absentee ballots,
- conduct voting at basketball games and other school events, and
- arrange early voting sites in workplaces at the request of employers.
- Should Madison Central publish a list of early voting places and times? There is no statutory requirement for them to publish this document.
- Will there be a voting booth to insure voter privacy? All voters (either voting in-person absentee or at the polling place on election day) must be provided a private area to vote (either voting booth or a table top voting booth).
- What about folks wearing pro or con stickers/t-shirts at these school events? There cannot be any political material within 100 feet of any entrance to the location where absentee voting is being conducted.
- How will poll watchers be arranged? Poll watchers have to be allowed to be present. A person who is wanting to be a poll watcher must identify themselves as such to the election board (on election day) or the business manager/staff conducting the absentee voting.
Workplace voting still strikes me as fertile ground for improper influence. When the boss waves a fistful of absentee ballots at employees on company time and says, "Hey! Who wants to vote for the school bond election right now?" there is bound to be some sense of pressure to vote.
And seriously: does anyone think it's fair to conduct a vote on a new gym in a gym while a basketball game is going on, while voters are surrounded by cheering fans clad in school colors? Madison High School is staging early voting at exactly those venues where they can implicitly say, "Look at the wonderful educational opportunities we provide for students. Can you really deny them a new gym and renovated classrooms?"
What's next? Should we allow Mike McDowell to invite the county auditor to ring absentee ballots to work for all of the Heartland employees the next time Senator Russell Olson runs for office? Should Scott Heidepriem get to arrange an early-voting site at his law office the next time he's on the ballot?
If that's just how the game is played, then so be it. But this early voting scheme is not about enfranchisement. It's about stacking the vote in the school's favor.
If incoming Secretary of State Jason Gant is worried about voter fraud, he should come to Madison to observe the most loosely conducted vote I've seen in this state.