2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 5. Elections — general provisions; ballots and voting systems.
5.06 Compliance review; appeal.
5.06 Compliance review; appeal.
(1) Whenever any elector of a jurisdiction or district served by an election official believes that a decision or action of the official or the failure of the official to act with respect to any matter concerning nominations, qualifications of candidates, voting qualifications, including residence, ward division and numbering, recall, ballot preparation, election administration or conduct of elections is contrary to law, or the official has abused the discretion vested in him or her by law with respect to any such matter, the elector may file a written sworn complaint with the commission requesting that the official be required to conform his or her conduct to the law, be restrained from taking any action inconsistent with the law or be required to correct any action or decision inconsistent with the law or any abuse of the discretion vested in him or her by law. The complaint shall set forth such facts as are within the knowledge of the complainant to show probable cause to believe that a violation of law or abuse of discretion has occurred or will occur. The complaint may be accompanied by relevant supporting documents. The commission may conduct a hearing on the matter in the manner prescribed for treatment of contested cases under ch. 227 if it believes such action to be appropriate.
(2) No person who is authorized to file a complaint under sub. (1), other than the attorney general or a district attorney, may commence an action or proceeding to test the validity of any decision, action or failure to act on the part of any election official with respect to any matter specified in sub. (1) without first filing a complaint under sub. (1), nor prior to disposition of the complaint by the commission. A complaint is deemed disposed of if the commission fails to transmit an acknowledgment of receipt of the complaint within 5 business days from the date of its receipt or if the commission concludes its investigation without a formal decision.
(3) A complaint under this section shall be filed promptly so as not to prejudice the rights of any other party. In no case may a complaint relating to nominations, qualifications of candidates or ballot preparation be filed later than 10 days after the complainant knew or should have known that a violation of law or abuse of discretion occurred or was proposed to occur.
(4) The commission may, on its own motion, investigate and determine whether any election official, with respect to any matter concerning nominations, qualifications of candidates, voting qualifications, including residence, ward division and numbering, recall, ballot preparation, election administration or conduct of elections, has failed to comply with the law or abused the discretion vested in him or her by law or proposes to do so.
(5) Upon receipt of a complaint under sub. (1), or upon its own motion, the commission may order any election official to immediately transfer to its possession any original documents in the custody of the official which the commission finds to be necessary and relevant to permit review of compliance with the laws concerning nominations, qualifications of candidates, ward division and numbering, recall or ballot preparation or the proper administration of such laws.
(6) The commission may, after such investigation as it deems appropriate, summarily decide the matter before it and, by order, require any election official to conform his or her conduct to the law, restrain an official from taking any action inconsistent with the law or require an official to correct any action or decision inconsistent with the law. The commission shall immediately transmit a copy of the order to the official. An order issued under this subsection is effective immediately or at such later time as may be specified in the order.
(7) The commission may withdraw, modify or correct an order issued under sub. (6) within a timely period if it finds such action to be appropriate.
(8) Any election official or complainant who is aggrieved by an order issued under sub. (6) may appeal the decision of the commission to circuit court for the county where the official conducts business or the complainant resides no later than 30 days after issuance of the order. Pendency of an appeal does not stay the effect of an order unless the court so orders.
(9) The court may not conduct a de novo proceeding with respect to any findings of fact or factual matters upon which the commission has made a determination, or could have made a determination if the parties had properly presented the disputed matters to the commission for its consideration. The court shall summarily hear and determine all contested issues of law and shall affirm, reverse or modify the determination of the commission, according due weight to the experience, technical competence and specialized knowledge of the commission, pursuant to the applicable standards for review of agency decisions under s. 227.57.
(10) This section does not apply to matters arising in connection with a recount under s. 9.01.
The plaintiff's failure to comply with the method of review prescribed by this section deprived the circuit court of jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff's original action regarding election irregularities. Kuechmann v. LaCrosse School District, 170 Wis. 2d 218, 487 N.W.2d 639 (Ct. App. 1992).