Madison to continue with Democracy in the Park event despite GOP push-back

“Clearly this event is neither unsecure nor unlawful or you would have cited a relevant prohibition,” Haas wrote in his letter to attorney Misha Tseytlin
Published: Sep. 27, 2020 at 1:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The City of Madison will continue it’s Democracy in the Park absentee voting event despite pushback from GOP leaders.

In a letter to Misha Tseytlin, the attorney who complained about the event’s “illegal collection of ballots” on behalf of State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, City Attorney Michael Haas said Saturday the event will go on.

“Absent of any directive from the Wisconsin Elections Commission or a court, the City will proceed with Democracy in the Park, and ti will process the ballots collected with other absentee ballots pursuant to Wisconsin Statues," Haas said in his letter.

The event will take place again next Saturday, Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in each of the city’s 206 parks and is said to make it easier for more than 70,000 people who have requested absentee ballots to vote in the November election.

In his letter, Haas defended Madison’s Democracy in the Park event and requested the law firm representing the GOP leaders retract their letter to the City Clerk.

Haas urged the firm to provide legal support for the allegations and identify statues that support the alleged violation.

According to Hass, the procedures establish by the City Clerk to secure ballots at the park event are equivalent to the procedures used to secure all absentee ballots.

“Sworn election officials will retrieve ballots that have already been issued and will ensure that ballots are properly witnessed and are secured in sealed absentee ballot envelopes and ballot containers with tamper-evident seals, to be tabulated on Election Day,” Haas' letter reads. “The election officials will maintain a chain of custody log that is open to public inspection. No new ballots will be issued in the parks.”

The City of Madison, Hass said, invited election officials nominated from both major political parties to participate in the event and received no complaints or concerns from the regarding the procedures that were to be used.

“Clearly this event is neither unsecure nor unlawful or you would have cited a relevant prohibition,” Haas wrote.

The letter continues, refuting the law firm’s citation of statues that apply to the challenging of absentee ballots is certain circumstances: if the person is not a U.S. citizen, not at least 18 years old, not a resident in the election district for at least 10 days, has a criminal conviction and has not been restored to civil rights, has been adjudicated incompetent or has voted previously in the same election.

“The allowable reasons do not include that the challenger does not like the manner in which an absentee ballot is returned,” Haas wrote. “If you have some legal basis for that statement, please share it so that the City can address your concern before the election and resolve any confusion that your allegations have caused. If there is no legal basis, we request that you retract your letter to Clerk Witzel-Behl.”

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