Government and Political News: Poll workers to blame for issues in Racine during recall electionWisconsin News
-- Racine officials blame a shortage of poll workers for the voting issues raised during the June 5th recall election.
Racine officials blame a shortage of poll workers for the voting issues raised during the June 5th recall election. City Administrator Tom Friedel tells the Racine Journal Times they tried everything to recruit poll workers. But they only came up with 180, about half of what they could have used. Both parties appointed poll workers, but officials said they only produced a fraction of what was needed. A recount in the Senate election in Racine County turned up ballot bags that were unsealed, blank absentee ballots improperly initialed by poll workers, and poll books not signed by voters under a new state law. Republicans who lost the recall election – and control of the state Senate – cited possible fraud. But Racine County sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors said last Friday they found no evidence of criminal intent. And therefore, no charges would be filed. Racine Mayor John Dickert says some accusations were made before all the facts were known – but he says he’ll meet with city elections officials, and address any issues before the U-S Senate primary four weeks from tomorrow. Both the mayor and the administrator said they would not point fingers at specific poll workers, saying some worked 14 straight hours without a break. Dickert also the city is also looking at concerns about poll observers. The mayor said quote, “Would you want to be a poll worker with a guy literally screaming behind you?” Dickert also said the state said needs to provide more money and resources to run elections.
Wisconsin’s not the only state that’s waiting until after the November election before deciding to adopt President Obama’s health care reform law. Republican governors in Nebraska and Virginia have joined Scott Walker in waiting to see if Mitt Romney wins the White House in November – and how quickly he would work to throw out the Democrats’ health package. States control two major parts of the law – expanding Medicaid, and creating Internet-based exchanges to help low-income people buy private insurance. About a half-dozen states – including Wisconsin – have announced plans to forego the Medicaid expansion, calling it an underfunded entitlement. Last week, the Obama administration said people won’t be fined for not having health insurance in states which turn down the Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin health secretary Dennis Smith says there’s a cost to the extra federal funding that goes with the expansion of Medicaid, and states won’t lose Medicaid dollars regardless of what happens. At a meeting of the National Governors Association, some state leaders said they’re worried about taking the extra federal money because Washington might pull it at any time. And that would leave states on the hook for massive spending increases. Walker says governors are complaining among themselves about the federal government’s record on special education. Congress promised in 1975 to pay 40-percent of all school special-ed programs – but that commitment has fallen far short over the years.
More concerns are being raised about the proposed conversion of the federal safety net for dairy farmers into an insurance program. The change is part of the next Farm Bill endorsed last week by the House Agriculture Committee. Small dairy farms have received direct federal subsidies when the market price for milk drops below certain levels. And the Badger State has received more relief than others, because a larger percentage of Wisconsin farms are smaller family operations. But the Milk Income Loss Contract program is due to expire September 30th. And the Farm Bill replaces it with an insurance system funded by both taxpayers and farmers. La Crosse House Democrat Ron Kind says he’s leery of the change, saying it would restrict the state’s production capability. Keith York, a vice president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, says government spending needs to be cut – and he personally believes farmers are willing to do their part. But York says the new system could hurt dairy exports due to lower production. And some analysts say there’s no guarantee the insurance system would reduce costs for taxpayers. A farm with 100 cows would pay 11-thousand-700-dollars to cover 90-percent of its milk over five years. And U-W Madison analyst Mark Stephenson said it would have paid 63-thousand-dollars over the last five years to a farmer who bought that much coverage. But the Great Recession occurred during that time span. And some say insurance pay-outs might go through the roof if there’s another drought like the one now being felt in much of the country. Kind is also concerned that a cut in milk production would hurt cheese plants. He says the full House might not vote on the package until after the November elections.