MADISON, Wis. — A June 2012 news report in the Wall Street Journal featured a look at the efforts of Gov. Walker and other right wing groups to target Republicans to vote early in the 2012 recall elections, and speculated it could serve as a model for other states. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that Republicans have added a heaping dose of hypocrisy to their updated voter turnout plan by seeking to suppress the votes of seniors, minorities and working families with new restrictions on early, in-person voting.
Ross commented, “Wisconsin Republicans have a new early voting program. But this time, to help boost Gov. Walker’s election prospects, they’ve added a heaping dose of hypocrisy by targeting minorities, seniors, students and persons with disabilities with new barriers to their participation in elections.”
A bill passed by the State Senate last week (Senate Bill 324) would restrict early voting in Wisconsin. Local election officials would be prohibited from allowing people to vote early in-person at their municipal clerk’s office via absentee ballot before 8am or after 7pm on weekdays or for more than 45 hours per week. Weekend in-person absentee voting would be banned.
Voting records maintained by the state Government Accountability Board show that 15 of the 17 Republican Senators voting to roll back early voting have themselves voted early. In fact bill author Senator Glenn Grothman has voted early 7 times in the last decade, including twice in 2012.
Early in-person voting has become increasingly popular in recent years as a convenient way for voters to do their civic duty and cast a ballot in elections. Early voting can also help reduce election day overcrowding at polling locations and provide a convenient, accessible option for seniors and persons with disabilities to cast their ballot. The impact of an early voting ban would fall especially hard on urban areas of the state with large minority populations.
“It seems that Republicans are all for equal access to the franchise, just so long as that voter is a likely Republican. We’re seeing the real fraud in Wisconsin elections on display as partisan politicians try to manipulate the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage,” concluded Ross.