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State’s Chief Elections Official to Testify Before Congress

Date: 
May 13, 2008

MADISON, WI – Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), will testify to the Elections Subcommittee of the U.S. House’ Committee on House Administration Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

The subcommittee hearing – “Election Contingency Plans: What Have We Learned and Is America Prepared?” – will address election planning and what election officials have done to prepare for emergencies such as tornadoes, bomb threats, hazardous leaks and power outages.

“Wisconsin has planned for many sorts of obstacles on Election Day, and Congress wants to know about our work,” Kennedy said. “Not surprisingly, good coordination by local clerks, poll workers, and others is the key to what makes elections run smoothly.”

The Elections Division, formerly the State Elections Board, began planning for election emergencies with local election officials in 2002. Municipalities were urged to develop procedures to deal with severe weather, loss of power at polling places, and other disruptions.

Wisconsin also has focused heavily on training for election officials of all types, to ensure that the more than 20,000 people needed to carry out a statewide election are ready.

“While our system is decentralized and relies on local governments, we constantly stress readiness through communication with, and training and education for, the people who do the work,” Kennedy said. “We’re happy the federal government wants to hear our story.”

Kennedy will testify at 1:00 p.m. CDT Wednesday to the subcommittee, chaired by California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, whose staff contacted the G.A.B.’s Elections Division to request input from Wisconsin.