MILWAUKEE — An omnibus bill from Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) on the legislative fast-track would make a host of anti-voter changes to state election law according to voter rights advocates. Members of the Protect Wisconsin Elections Coalition, State Representative JoCastsa Zamarippa and a constituent of bill author Rep. Stone all blasted the proposed bill for making it harder for Wisconsinites to vote and undermining their confidence that their votes will be counted and elections will be free and fair.
Rep. Zamarripa, ranking Democratic member of the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee commented, ” This package is yet another partisan attempt to disenfranchise voters and change the outcome of elections. Instead of keeping people in the dark about shadowy independent groups’ campaign spending, we should be discussing ways to improve and increase voter turnout.”
Among the more egregious provisions of Rep. Stone’s bill are measures that would:
- Attempt to re-impose a voter ID requirement still being litigated in state and federal courts;
- Make it easier for ballots cast by legal voters to be discounted due to minor clerical errors;
- Restrict early voting hours and essentially eliminate weekend voting in large urban areas;
- Repeal state policy that allows voters to use electronic copies of qualifying documents to verify their residency;
- Increase partisanship of election regulators at the state Government Accountability Board and in local polling places; and
- Roll back campaign transparency requirements and repeal the 100 year-old-plus ban on corporate contributions.
Dorothy Sherman, a Greendale resident and constituent of the bill’s author Rep. Stone said, “This bill amplifies the voices of corporations and lobbyists while drowning out the voices of Wisconsin citizens by making it harder to vote.”
Speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Mary Kae Nelson noted, “Wisconsin has a proud tradition of keeping partisanship out of our election process and encouraging high voter participation. This bill does the opposite by politicizing appointments to the board that oversees elections and creating new barriers for citizens to vote.”
One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross noted that government ought to be protecting and expanding the right to vote, but that Gov. Walker and the GOP controlled legislature have moved aggressively in the opposite direction. Among the measures they have adopted are a radical gerrymandering of Congressional and State Legislative districts that led to Republicans gaining seats in the State Assembly despite receiving 174,000 fewer votes than Democrats and a voter ID requirement that could prevent an estimated 300,000 legal voters from exercising the franchise.
He concluded, “Rep. Stone’s bill is an across the board assault on the ability of legal Wisconsin voters to cast their vote in fair elections and have confidence that their vote will be counted. Sadly, this is just another example of the real voter fraud occurring in Wisconsin today politicians manipulating the rules on voting to give themselves a partisan political advantage.”
The groups participating in the Protect Wisconsin Elections Coalition are dedicated to encouraging electoral participation and ensuring every legal voter in Wisconsin has the opportunity to cast a ballot and have their vote counted. Members include: African American Roundtable, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, Wisconsin League of Young Voters, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, America Votes, Fair Elections Legal Network, Forward Institute, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, People For the American Way, One Wisconsin Institute, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, United Wisconsin, NARAL Pro-Choice WI, and Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.