A Wisconsin city clerk has been complaining for months that she doesn’t have the money or staff to offer early voting — but a newly released email suggests she’s trying to rig the election against the Democratic Party.
Kris Teske, the city clerk in Green Bay, argued that her office lacks the resources to set up an additional polling location near the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay — but an email released as part of an open-records request found her cooking up a convoluted legal claim to prevent students from voting, reported The Nation.
The city made national news during April’s primary election, when voters near the campus endured long lines and “chaos” to cast their ballots.
A federal court in August upheld an earlier decision to allow Wisconsin election officials to offer longer early voting hours, and city clerks in Madison and Milwaukee have done so.
Teske — who was appointed by Republican Mayor Jim Schmitt, a close ally of Gov. Scott Walker — bristled at requests from a “very persistent” Democratic state lawmaker, Eric Genrich, to open an additional polling location near the campus.
The city clerk sent an email Aug. 26 to David Buerger, an attorney at the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, to find a way to legally wriggle out of the request.
“I don’t like the idea at all for many reasons: Staffing, ballot security, budget, etc.,” Teske complained in the email, which was provided to The Nation as part of an open-records request by the One Wisconsin Institute.
“I was reading the statutes and read: No site may be designated that affords an advantage to any political party,” Teske wrote. “UWGB is a polling location for students and residents on Election Day but I feel by asking for this to be the site for early voting is encouraging the students to vote more than benefitting the city as a whole.”
That’s when Teske thought she had found a legal loophole to stop students from casting ballots.
“I have heard it said that students lean more toward the democrats and he is a democrat,” she wrote. “I have spoken with our Chief of Staff and others at City Hall and they agree that budget wise this isn’t going to happen.”
Teske explicitly asked the attorney from the bipartisan state commission whether she could deny students additional hours to vote because they were more likely to cast ballots for Democratic candidates.
“I would like to know your thoughts on this,” Teske wrote. “Do I have an argument about it being more of a benefit to the democrats.”