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HomeBreakingAshley Reichert & Josh Schoemann: How Washington County Is Taking the Lead...

Ashley Reichert & Josh Schoemann: How Washington County Is Taking the Lead on Election Integrity

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“I’m proud that we are the first county to fund additional election integrity measures for November’s crucial election” – Washington Co. Executive Josh Schoemann

Washington County, Wisconsin, is tightening the integrity of the election process in a sweeping package championed by County Clerk Ashley Reichert and County Executive Josh Schoemann that provides for a county-wide audit and other measures in November.

“These measures can significantly reinforce the electoral process’s integrity and assist in enhancing public confidence in our democratic system,” Reichert said in a press release of the numerous steps the county is implementing for the 2024 election. The issue is part of Reichert’s platform in November herself, as she is up for re-election.

The election integrity package, which passed the County Board, provides:

• Enhanced in-person absentee hours on a voluntary basis, “that will allow our communities to provide extended voting hours currently only available to larger cities,” the press release says.
• Election audits on the night of the election (voluntary municipal participation).
• A county-wide election audit.
• Discontinue Central Count “through buying back machines previously bought by some municipalities and return to the standard precinct-based process, upon municipal approval. This will allow for the count of absentee ballots at polling locations rather than transfer to another location.”
• Replace cloth voting machine cases “with hard cases to better protect the expensive equipment.”

In the release, Reichert outlined the elections initiatives, saying the county will provide $150,000 “in county funding to local municipalities, noting that compensating the municipalities at 150% of actual costs will offset funds needed for additional poll workers, election inspectors, and additional hours for the clerks.”

In a committee report, Reichert further noted, “Supporting voluntary municipal-level audits with dedicated funds can provide granular scrutiny of voting procedures and outcomes, bolstering public trust. Expanding upon this approach, by also funding an additional countywide audit of all ballots cast in the November 5,2O24 election further underscores a commitment to thorough verification and accuracy. This is similar to previously done voluntary hand count audits at the county level, such as November of 2022.”

Read Reichert’s committee report in full here: 050824 2024 Election Integrity Initiatives and Resolution

In the news release, Washington County Executive Josh Schoemann praised the County Board’s approval of the Election Integrity resolution to be implemented ahead of the November 2024 General Election. The County Board approved the package in May.

“I commend County Clerk Ashley Reichert for bringing these bold and innovative initiatives forward and thank the County Board for unanimously supporting this Election Integrity package,” Schoemann said.

Josh schoemann
Josh schoemann.

“Residents of Washington County expect elections to be run fairly and these initiatives address concerns that have emerged in recent elections. Our goal is to bolster public confidence in the process. I’m proud that we are the first county to fund additional election integrity measures for November’s crucial election. I look forward to local municipalities cooperating to effectuate these initiatives and encourage other counties to follow suit,” he added.

Schoemann gave additional details to WISN 1130 AM host Jay Weber, as described by Center Square. 

“We’ve had some really late running elections because central count does not work the way it was designed,” Schoemann said to Weber. “So, we’d like to see things go back to the traditional process. Send those in-person absentee ballots, all absentee ballots, back to the polling locations where they’re intended. And we think by buying back these machines gives the municipalities a little bit extra incentive to do exactly that.”

According to Schoemann, per Center Square: “We see the city of Madison, the city of Milwaukee with an incredible amount of hours for convenience of their voters. Many of our rural communities, even some of our townships, you have to schedule an appointment and that’s the only option you have.”

Jessica McBridehttps://www.wisconsinrightnow.com
Jessica's opinions on this website and all WRN and personal social media pages, including Facebook and X, represent her own opinions and not those of the institution where she works. Jessica McBride, a Wisconsin Right Now contributor, is a national award-winning journalist and journalism educator with more than 25 years in journalism. Jessica McBride’s journalism career started at the Waukesha Freeman newspaper in 1993, covering City Hall. She was an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a decade. Since 2004, she has taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in many news outlets, including Heavy.com (where she is a contributor reaching millions of readers per month), Patch.com, WTMJ, WISN, WUWM, Wispolitics.com, OnMilwaukee.com, Milwaukee Magazine, Nightline, El Conquistador Latino Newspaper, Japanese and German television, Channel 58, Reader’s Digest, Twist (magazine), Wisconsin Public Radio, BBC, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and others. 

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