Muskego and New Berlin are among communities where 17-year-olds illegally registered to vote in the 2016 Wisconsin spring primary election, according to a report by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The report, which was released Tuesday, March 14, said that 17-year-olds wrongly thought they could vote in the April 5, 2016, primary if they turned 18 before the general election in November 2016. That misunderstanding stemmed from one of the Presidential campaigns that said some states do allow 17-year-olds to vote under those circumstances.
However, that is not true in Wisconsin where state law says that a voter must be 18 to vote in any election.
Two 17-year-olds were found to have voted illegally in New Berlin. The state report also notes that Muskego had one or more underage voters. However, the Muskego clerk's office did not respond to emails asking how many voted and how they slipped through.
In New Berlin where Daniel Green has been city clerk only since last fall, poll workers have the responsibility for making sure voters are old enough, Green said. Both the 17-year-olds registered at the polls, where the application asks for their birthdays and contains a box to check to verify that the potential voter is 18 years old, he said. Proof of age also is required, Green said.
"It is important that ages are verified on their forms and we train our poll workers to check this information," he said.
The errors were caught when the clerk's office attempted to enter their registration into the state's website, Green said. A letter containing their names was sent to the Waukesha County District Attorney's Office on April 25.
To avoid such situations in the future, Green said, "This issue has specifically been addressed to all of our poll workers." Educating voters if circumstances causing confusion arise again also would help, he said.