‘Clearly this event is neither unsecure nor unlawful’: City attorney responds to GOP allegations that Democracy in the Park is illegal

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MADISON, Wis. — Madison’s city attorney penned a letter Saturday addressing allegations from Republican state lawmakers that the city’s Democracy in the Park event is unlawful.

Lawyers for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said a Democracy in the Park event happening Saturday is unlawful.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Oct. 3, poll workers will accept absentee ballots and serve at witnesses for Madison voters. Poll workers will be stationed at every Madison community, neighborhood and mini park throughout the city.

“As you know, both major political parties are able to nominate election officials to work at polling places. The City of Madison invited election officials nominated by both the Republican and Democratic Parties to work at Democracy in the Park, and received no complaints or concerns regarding the procedures to be used from those officials,” City Attorney Michael Haas wrote. “You also state that there is no justification for this ‘ad hoc, unsecure and unlawful approach.’ Clearly this event is neither unsecure nor unlawful or you would have cited a relevant prohibition.”

According to a tweet from the Madison Clerk’s Office, Haas is an expert in election law.

Haas repeatedly called on the GOP lawmakers to cite specific statutes that Democracy in the Park is in violation of in his letter. According to Haas’ letter, Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl didn’t receive the letter until it was shared by media.

“I am glad to discuss your questions directly so that we can alleviate any concerns you and your clients may have, rather than having to obtain your letter from the media,” Haas wrote. “This tactic demeans the seriousness of your allegations and signals a desire to simply discourage participation by voters in Madison.”

LIST: Places to drop-off absentee ballots in Madison

“All voters are welcome to participate and observe the process which is designed to bring the entire community together to participate in democracy,” Haas wrote. “I trust that is a goal you and your clients can support.”

Haas’ full letter is available here.