Dunn County completes electronic records project for county board minutes

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE —  For the last 135 years, since 1883, Dunn County has been keeping the minutes of the Dunn County Board’s proceedings.

The oldest of the Dunn County Board’s books of minutes are quite fragile, said Julie Wathke, Dunn County Clerk, during her annual report to the Dunn County Board at the February 21 meeting.

Wathke was pleased to announce the project to scan all of the county board minutes into electronic files has been completed.

[emember_protected] Dunn County contracted with a company to scan the minutes, and the work began in October, Wathke said.

The estimate for completing the project was $13,850, but the actual cost came in well under budget at $9,271, she said.

The beauty of the electronic files is the software provides a search feature, so if someone is looking for something specific in the minutes, typing in a keyword will bring up all of the references in the minutes, Wathke said.

Wathke recently used the search feature to find a specific reference in the minutes and found what she needed in about 15 minutes.

Searching through the physical copies of the books of minutes would have taken hours or days, if not longer, she said.

Election results

The state Legislature passed new election laws that went into effect in 2017, Wathke said.

Beginning in March of 2017, county clerks are now required to post all election night results on the county’s website, including vote totals for local elections, which includes all city, township, village and school district elections, she said.

Recounts

Wisconsin Act 120 made changes to recount statutes, Wathke said.

Any elector who voted on a referendum questions can still petition for a recount. Candidates, however, can only petition for a recount if they are considered an “aggrieved party,” she said.

To be considered an aggrieved party, the election must have had 4,000 or fewer votes for the office the candidate was seeking, and the candidate must be trailing by no more than 40 votes. For an election with more than 4,000 votes, the candidate must be trailing by no more than 1 percent of the total votes cast, Wathke said.

Act 120 also requires the candidate to include a statement with the recount petition that he or she is an “aggrieved party,” she said.

Voter registration

The Wisconsin Elections Commission launched online voter registration in January through the MyVote.wi.gov website, Wathke said.

Wisconsin Act 295 passed in 2015 eliminated the role of Special Registration Deputies (SRDs) when the online voter registration was launched, she said.

SRDs may no longer sign voter registration applications verifying proof of residence, Wathke said.

Voter maintenance

The required four-year voter maintenance was completed last year, Wathke said.

Notice of Suspension of Registration postcards were mailed to voters in Dunn County identified as not having voted in the last four years. Voters for whom a postcard had been sent had their voter status in WisVote set to “active” with status reason of “suspended,” she said.

Voters who received the postcards had until July 31, 2017, to respond. If voters did not request a continuation or if the Notice of Suspension of Registration postcard was returned to the county clerk as undeliverable by July 31, 2017, the voter status was changed to “inactive” with a status reason of “4-Year Maintenance,” Wathke said.

League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters established a Chippewa Valley chapter in 2017.

Wathke has worked with League on the Voter Service Committee.

The committee is working to promote voter education and awareness for registration, voting information, and providing candidate forums in the Chippewa Valley, Wathke said.

Wathke reported she will be providing Observer Training to the Chippewa Valley League of Women Voters in March.

Statistics

In 2017, the Dunn County clerk’s office issued 238 marriage licenses, which reflects about a 9 percent increase over 2016, when 216 marriage licenses were issued.

The county clerk’s office issued 110 timber cutting permits in 2017 that were forwarded to the appropriate municipality and to the state Department of Natural Resources.

In 2016, 125 timber cutting permits were issued. The 2017 number of timber cutting permits reflects a 12 percent decrease. [/emember_protected]