RACINE — Local election officials now risk losing their appointment if they engage in the spread of misinformation following the adoption of the City of Racine Election Officials Handbook on Tuesday.
The handbook outlines the duties of an election official and includes a provision that prohibits them from spreading misinformation about elections on the job and in their private lives.
Election Officials Handbook unanimously adopted
The Common Council adopted the handbook on a unanimous vote.
Tara McMenamin, city clerk, explained to the Finance & Personnel Committee (Aug. 7) the handbook was created to outline the responsibilities of election officials. The expectations were taken from state law, local ordinances, city personnel handbook, and Wisconsin Election Commission recommendations.
“The state actually gives a lot of authority to the clerk to be able to hire and fire election officials for not performing their duties, but we never actually mapped out some of the reasons it could be considered not doing your duty,” McMenamin said of the need to create the book.
She pointed out the council passed an ordinance last year that makes it a crime to harass election officials. The purpose of the ordinance was to hold voters accountable for their conduct. The handbook for election officials is a way to hold those working elections accountable for professional conduct, as well, she continued.
“This is our end of the deal,” she said.
There were questions about who would be the final arbiter for what constitutes misinformation. The authority for hiring and firing election officials belongs to McMenamin, and she will have the final say on what constitutes language that undermines confidence in the election system.
She explained if a person has an issue with the election process, they should report it so an investigation can be conducted.
McMenamin stood firm on the issue of election workers who might lose their appointments for what they said outside of the workplace.
“You shouldn’t be working the election unless you’re confident in the process,” she said adding there is a process for reporting concerns. Individuals working the election are required to report concerns, as noted in the handbook.
The handbook was adopted unanimously. The following alders were absent: Melissa Kaprelian, Olivia Turquoise Davis, Cory Sebastian, and Marcus West.
Toys for Tots, data sharing agreement discussed
The Common Council also discussed the following:
- To increase the rent for Toys for Tots to $12,010.39/year: The non-profit rents space in the City Hall Annex, 800 Center St. Alderman Henry Perez argued the organization should be given the space at no cost in consideration of the work they do for families. The city does not charge rent, per se, to non-profits. Instead, the organizations are charged for utilities based on the square footage they rent. Toys for Tots has 9,457 square feet, the largest space in the building for a non-profit. All users were subject to a 4.8% CPI increase (from the Department of Labor and Statistics). That represents a $567.42 increase for the organization. The council voted in favor of the increase, with Perez voting against it.
- A data sharing agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the City of Racine: The agreement will allow the city to track all participants of the YWCA’s high school equivalency diploma program going back to 2014 and into the future. The city partnered with the YWCA to bring about the HSED program. The YWCA will provide participant information to Higher Expectations Racine, who will then request information from workforce development. The information will be mined from unemployment insurance records. The purpose is to determine if the diploma made a difference in wages for the individual. Higher Expectations will be tracking both those who did not graduate with their diploma and those who did. There is no cost to the city for the data collection as Higher Expectations is covering the costs. The item passed 10-1, with Alderman Renee Kelly voting against.
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