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VIDEO REPORT: Aug. 14th Primary: Voter Rights and Responsibilities

TUESDAY, July 31, 2012--3:20p.m.

MADISON--It may seem like we just finished the last election--and already it's time for another!

The August 14 primary is just a few weeks away. But you can cast your vote in the contest now. Absentee voting opened up yesterday and is available in-person at your local clerk's office until the Friday before the election.

If you want to absentee vote and return your ballot by mail, those need to be postmarked by election day and received at your clerk's office by the Friday following the election.

You may be wondering why the primary's taking place in August. It's so the state can comply with a new federal law that requires allowing 45 days for military and overseas citizens to get their ballots, fill them out and send them back in.

A spokesman for the Government Accountability Board says the earlier contest may affect participation rates--because some will likely be on vacation. But he says for those folks absentee voting is an easily accessible option.

"Our prediction is that we're looking for about a 20 percent turnout," said Reid Magney, of the Government Accountability Board, on what they're expecting for turnout in this election. "Our partisan primaries are generally not high turnout affairs, they tend to be voted in by people who are very interested in party politics."

For those of you wondering about whether or not you'll need a photo ID to vote in the primary, the answer is you do not.
However, Magney says if you haven't yet registered, packing one may be helpful for that process.

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Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2012 --- 2:34 p.m.

Press Release from the Government Accountability Board:

MADISON, WI – With Wisconsin’s partisan primary just two weeks away on August 14, the Government Accountability Board today issued an updated flier on voter rights and responsibilities.

“It is important for voters to know their rights and responsibilities,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “Being well informed is the best defense against complications at the polling place, including frivolous challenges to a voter’s eligibility.”

“To exercise your right to vote, you must be properly registered,” Kennedy said. “When you register in the 20 days before an election or on Election Day, it is your responsibility to provide proper proof of residence.” It can be a current and valid Wisconsin driver license or state ID card, but also a tax bill, a lease, a utility or cell phone bill, or a paycheck. It cannot be a sales receipt or a piece of junk mail. A list of acceptable documents is on the Board’s website: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters/registration-voting.

The two-page flier titled “Wisconsin Voter Rights and Responsibilities” also includes important information about observing elections and challenging voters. It is available online at http://gab.wi.gov/rights.

“Our system of open, transparent elections depends on members of the public serving as observers at polling places,” said Kennedy. “However, in recent elections we have received disturbing reports and complaints about unacceptable, illegal behavior by observers. Voters expect a calm setting in which to exercise their right to vote.”

As part of its “Back to Basics” plan for the Fall Election Cycle, the G.A.B. is putting an emphasis on training local election officials to deal with boisterous, disruptive election observers, said Elections Division Administrator Nat Robinson.

“Observers may not speak to or intimidate voters. Poll workers do not have to put up with observers who bully them or question their actions,” Robinson said. “The Chief Inspector is in charge at each polling place, and must be obeyed. Our training will underscore that Chief Inspectors are empowered by law to order troublemakers to leave, and to call law enforcement if they refuse.”

Included is the flier is a warning that anyone who disobeys an order to leave a polling place may be subject to arrest and a fine of $1,000, six months in jail or both.


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