Capital City Sunday: WEC leader defends system after election fraud arrest; Social Security takes center stage in Senate race | New

MADISON (WKOW) — After the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges against a conservative activist who fraudulently requested mail-in ballots from officials to prove it could be done, the top election official of the state defended the online portal for such claims.

Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), said the MyVote Platform has a number of safeguards to detect attempts at electoral fraud.

Racine County HOT Gov. Harry Wait admitted to requesting the mail-in ballots belonging to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason.

The DOJ charged Wait in Racine County Court on Thursday. waiting group had maintained he should not be charged because state law does not allow online ballot applications through the Elections Commission.

Wolfe, however, said the MyVote site is a one-stop-shop where requests trigger an automated email to a voter’s city clerk, who is responsible for sending mail-in ballots.

“Wisconsin Election Commission, we never mail ballots to voters,” Wolfe said. “It’s a responsibility that falls solely to your local election official.”

Wolfe said clerks would be able to flag suspicious requests, such as Wait. The criminal complaint noted that an account using the same IP address requested ballots from multiple voters within about two hours. Most of those ballots were directed to Wait’s home address.

“In addition to that, the commission even sends postcards to voters who have requested that their ballot be sent to an alternate address,” Wolfe said. “It’s just another process check to make sure you’re the one making this request, and that’s your intent.”

Some conservative officials remain skeptical of the system’s security. Assembly Elections Committee Chairman Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) scheduled a hearing Tuesday to discuss maintaining state voter rolls.

Some Republicans also scoffed at the WEC’s request for additional funding to create the Inspector General program.

Wolfe said the ten additional positions, at a cost of $1.3 million over the next two years, would improve the commission’s ability to deal with data requests, allegations of election law violations, as well as only to increase the number of audits.

“Do you want to see an increase in the number of voting equipment audits?” Wolfe said. “Do you want to see an expansion of programs like accessibility audits?”

The commission faces a number of hurdles in its bid: Republican candidates for governor and secretary of state have said, if elected, they would support dismantling the commission and give powers electoral oversight to elected officials.

New evidence presented from Mar-a-Lago research

Federal investigators this week filed new evidence from their search of Florida property belonging to former President Donald Trump. They allegedly found dozens of documents marked as “secret” or even “top secret”.

The US DOJ also alleges that Trump’s attorneys lied about the location of government records on Mar-a-Lago’s property.

Lisa Graves, a former assistant deputy attorney general in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, now runs the progressive firm True North Research in Superior.

She said the documents were enough to convince her that Trump had committed a crime by taking the documents.

“To me, it became increasingly clear that crimes were being committed,” Graves said. “And you can see in the revelations about the documents that were obtained, as well as the visual photo of the documents. You can see that these were top secret documents; these are documents that should never have left the presidential domain.

Trump’s lawyers are asking an outside special master to handle the case, alleging there are conflicts of interest in a DOJ under the Biden administration because Trump could run against Biden in 2024.

Student grades slide

A new national report offers data demonstrating declining student performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data from the National Center for Education Statistics show the biggest drop in reading scores in 30 years. Math scores fell for the first time. The report looked at test results for nine-year-olds.

“I expected that,” Rep. LaKeisha Myers (D-Milwaukee) said. “With the slippage that has occurred, having had to endure school closures during COVID-19 at the heart of when we were dealing with the early days of the pandemic and schools were closed, I I knew it would have a big impact on students, who need one-on-one interaction with an instructor.”

In Wisconsin, there is a debate about what to do to improve reading skills. Myers is one of three Democrats who voted for a Republican bill to increase the required number of reading assessments for students in kindergarten through second grade.

Under the bill, which splits education groups, preschoolers would be tested twice instead of once. For those in kindergarten to grade 2, the minimum number of assessments would increase from one to three; schools should then develop a personal improvement plan for students who are falling behind.

Governor Tony Evers vetoed the billclaiming that there was not enough evidence to show that more testing would help, and that it amounted to an unfunded mandate for schools.

“I stand firm on my position on this particular bill,” said Myers, a former educator. “If it were to be reintroduced today, I would still support it because I also understand the process. What we were asking for was not something that would require new funds for schools. School districts already have funds for ratings.”

Myers said it was a balancing act for school districts; they should not focus too much on testing children, but there must also be specific measures in order to hold schools and educators accountable.

Where should the legislature start when it meets again in January? Myers said the first priority should be addressing the teacher shortage.

“Wisconsin is not unique in that we need skilled individuals in the classroom in front of our students,” Myers said.

This week, Evers announced plans to donate an additional $90 million of the state’s pandemic relief assistance to schools, per student. Most of the money must be used to hire and retain staff, as well as to meet rising procurement costs.

Social Security at the center of the race for the Senate

The roots of Social Security are deep in Wisconsin soil. In the 1930s, UW-Madison economics professor Edwin Witte led the committee who designed what would become the Social Security program.

Fast forward to today, where the future of Social Security took center stage in Wisconsin’s race for the US Senate.

Democratic challenger Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has hosted events and cut ads where he accuses Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of wanting to make it easier for Congress to cut Social Security.

“We are fighting to protect our hard-earned advantages,” Barnes said in an interview with WJFW-TV on Rhinelander. “The ones our parents and grandparents spent their whole lives paying for, the ones that allow every Wisconsin resident to retire without putting food on the table or having to work beyond retirement age. .”

Johnson wants make social security and health insurance discretionary expenditure items, as opposed to guaranteed entitlements. Johnson argues that such a change would allow Congress to enact reforms that could prevent the Social Security trust from running out.

“The senator is trying to save these programs, not put them on the chopping block,” Johnson spokeswoman Alexa Henning said in an email. “His point is that without the fiscal discipline and oversight typically found with discretionary spending, Congress has allowed guaranteed benefits for programs like Social Security and Medicare to be threatened.”

John Witte, Edwin’s grandson and tax policy expert at UW-Madison, said the concern with making Social Security discretionary is that it then becomes the subject of political wrangling every budget cycle.

“You’ll have to refinance it every year,” Witte said. “That means there would be a battle every two years, at least, for funding the social security system, and that would be under strain. And what I think that would do – I can’t imagine that would lead to Social Security increases [funding.]”

Witte said the program’s nearly 90-year-old founders feared that scenario and wanted to make sure funding Americans’ retirement wouldn’t be a political issue.

“The only thing that [President] Franklin Delano Roosevelt insisted, and my grandfather strongly supported and recommended, that it not be a discretionary thing funded every year,” Witte said. “Whether it’s funded by a trust, and a trust is a pile of money that goes in there, and that trust is then administered by a commission.

The trust fund that pays social security benefits is on track to continue making payments on time until 2034.

In the coming years, there are fears that the program will be strained by an aging population: more Americans will collect Social Security contributions than young workers paying into the trust.

“It’s one of the major things that’s going to happen in the United States over the next two decades,” Witte said. “The number of workers relative to the number of retirees will decline.”

Possible solutions include increasing the social security tax on high earners. Currently, the tax is the same amount for anyone earning more than $147,000 a year. Witte said he thinks that number is a bit out of date and he estimates that raising taxes on wage earners earning more than $150,000 a year could keep the trust fully funded for another 25 years. year.

Another option would be to raise the retirement age under the program. Workers contributing to the program can currently start claiming pension benefits at age 62.

“It makes sense to do that because we’re living longer,” Witte said. “We’re living longer, and that means people are collecting Social Security for much longer periods of time.”

Witte added that this is unlikely as it could crush a candidate’s political ambitions.

Other options are to cut benefits paid or move toward privatization, where workers would see some of their federal retirement savings put on the stock market. Previous efforts to privatize Social Security fell flat.