A legislative committee asked state election officials to turn their motions on electoral issues into formalized rules to be approved by the governor Tuesday, a move critics say takes away the group’s independence from the Legislature.

In a 6-4 vote split down party lines, the Joint Committee for Review on Administrative Rules voted to change a motion made by the Government Accountability Board into a finalized rule requiring Gov. Scott Walker’s approval.

Jason Rostan, spokesperson for JCRAR Chair Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, said the motions on voter ID stickers, technical college IDs and who can pre-fill petitions must go through a fairly lengthy process to become formalized.

Rostan said a majority of the committee believed the GAB’s motion allowing the voter ID law to accept the use of technical college IDs is essentially new law created without legislative oversight.

The GAB is not an elected body, Rostan said, and should not be able to make new laws.

Consequently, the JCRAR asked the GAB to make this decision a formal rule to be approved by the governor, sent to a legislative hearing, and finalized by the GAB no later than February.

Reid Magney, spokesperson for the GAB, said the voter ID law clearly allowed college IDs to be used as voter identification.

As a result, he said, the judges in the GAB felt technical college ID should be included because tech schools are by definition colleges.

Magney said the GAB cannot tell clerks to accept stickers, and will ask the campuses that wanted stickers to seek alternatives for the time being. 

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said the Republicans on the committee have taken away the GAB’s independence with this decision.

“We created the Government Accountability Board to allow for a more ethical government,” Pocan said. “For Republicans to try to take away their power, it flies in the face of an objective watchdog for good government.”

He also said this decision reflects the Republicans’ intentions in the Legislature to suppress voters, particularly students, who tend to favor Democrats in elections.

He said the decision has more to do with narrowing the voter pool than it does preventing voter fraud.

“It starts to make it so that politicians are choosing their voters rather than voters choosing their politicians,” Pocan said. “Their actions to suppress the vote, whether for the recall or the fall elections, keep certain voters from voting.”