Wisconsin county to spend $150,000 on 2024 election integrity push

Schoeman said the first change will be an optional expansion for early voting.
Election Day

There are some changes coming for Election Day in Washington County, Wisconsin, this November.

Washington County’s board approved $150,000 for an election integrity reform package that includes changes for early voting and for how some ballots are counted on election night.

“This would pay not only for the immediate cost of the extra poll workers or chief election inspectors but also for some of the clerk's time,” Washington County Executive Josh Schoeman told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Thursday. “We’re really trying to take money off the table as an excuse.”

Schoeman said the first change will be an optional expansion for early voting.

“We see the city of Madison, the city of Milwaukee with an incredible amount of hours for convenience of their voters,” Schoeman explained. “Many of our rural communities, even some of our townships, you have to schedule an appointment and that's the only option you have.”

Schoeman said because this is a county program, each local election clerk will get to decide if they want to expand early voting hours. He said the county cannot mandate anything.

There’s also an option for local election clerks to hand count the results from this year’s race for president and U.S. Senate. Schoeman said Washington County hand-counted the ballots in the 2022 races and found a difference of two votes, but he said the hand count eased questions about election integrity.

Schoeman said the county is also looking to deal with election integrity questions by buying back voting machines and looking to close the central count facilities for West Bend and Germantown.

“We’ve had some really late running elections because central count does not work the way it was designed,” Schoeman added. “So, we'd like to see things go back to the traditional process. Send those in-person absentee ballots, all absentee ballots, back to the polling locations where they’re intended. And we think by buying back these machines gives the municipalities a little bit extra incentive to do exactly that.”

Schoeman said the $150,000 is only the cost for the November 2024 election. He said if the efforts are successful, he may ask the county for more money for the next election after that.