Complaint filed against Lake Co. clerk — in Wisconsin

A formal complaint has been filed in Wisconsin against Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, who was a poll watcher for that state's recall election last week, officials confirmed Friday.

A spokesman for Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in that state, confirmed a complaint was filed. But because reports are confidential under state law, staff attorney Mike Haas said, he could not release any details.

Helander, a Libertyville Republican, said Friday she took a vacation day from the clerk's office June 5 to be a poll watcher in Racine County, where she visited four sites.

Helander said she is aware of the complaint but has not read it. She believes it stems from an encounter with a female voter at a polling place at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School, but Helander denied interfering with anyone's ability to vote.

Helander said the woman was wearing a political button, or sticker, inside the polling place. Electioneering items like that are not allowed at voting booths in Wisconsin, Helander said, and she said something to the woman, who became upset.

Helander later learned the rule isn't enforced.

“I shouldn't have said a word to her,” she said.

Helander worked as a poll watcher because she wanted to observe voting procedures during the contentious election, which saw Republican Gov. Scott Walker retain his post.

“I'm interested in fair elections anywhere,” she said.

The Government Accountability Board staff will review the complaint and determine if it falls under its jurisdiction or is a criminal matter for the Racine County district attorney, Haas said.

If it is a matter for the accountability board, the panel can authorize an investigation, Haas said.

Complaints about candidates, polling-place observers and other people are common at election time, Haas said.

Helander said she isn't worried about the complaint.

“I'm very respectful of voters,” she said.

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