GAB watchdog needed more than ever

GAB watchdog needed more than ever

The following letter to the editor was printed in the January 12th edition of the Wisconsin State Journal: 

Launched in 2008, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board was formed by a virtually unanimous and bipartisan vote in the legislature. The GAB was crafted in response to the caucus scandal, which sent legislators from both political parties to jail for campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime.

The GAB replaced separate boards, including political appointees, which oversaw government ethics and election administration. The GAB is a big improvement over the old Elections Board, which was often deadlocked as its members sought to represent the partisanests who appointed them.

In contrast, the GAB has been hailed internationally as a model for nonpartisan election administration. The GAB’s six former judges are selected through a process designed to minimize partisan influence.

A recent audit of the GAB by the Legislative Audit Bureau revealed the GAB to be an effective agency limited by its oversized workload and barely sufficient level of staffing.

With more than 1,800 municipal clerks administering elections in Wisconsin, we need a strong state agency to ensure everyone has the same opportunity to vote. The GAB has lived up to that charge.

Recent calls to restructure the GAB are a partisan power grab. In times of one-party rule, regardless of which party is in the majority, we need the nonpartisan GAB watchdog more than ever.

-- Ingrid Rothe and Kathleen Fullin, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of Dane County