Records Reveal Work on GOP Assault on Voting in Wisconsin Began Mere Days After 2012 Elections

One Wisconsin Now Uncovers Heavy Influence by Top Assembly Leader, Milwaukee Singled Out for Early Voting Restrictions

MADISON, Wis. — A review of legislative drafting records by One Wisconsin Now has uncovered that Republicans began work to attack state election laws mere days after the November 2012 election and that an omnibus bill on the legislative fast track, introduced by Rep. Jeff Stone, was developed under the close supervision of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “The Republicans were so obsessed that they failed to win Wisconsin’s Electoral College votes for the seventh election in a row that they started drafting this voter suppression scheme before all the votes in the November 2012 election were counted.”

The legislation, Assembly Bill 225 (AB 225), was announced late in the afternoon on the Friday before Memorial Day and is being rushed through the legislative process while much of the public and media attention is focused on the biennial budget. Among the provisions of the bill are:

  • Re-imposition of a voter ID requirement found to be Unconstitutional by lower courts and still subject of state and federal lawsuits
  • Measures making it easier for ballots cast by legal voters to be discounted due to minor clerical errors;
  • Restrictions on early voting hours and essentially eliminate weekend voting in large urban areas;
  • Repeal of the state policy that allows voters to use electronic copies of qualifying documents to verify their residency;
  • Increased partisanship of election regulators at the state Government Accountability Board and in local polling places; and
  • Repeal of campaign transparency requirements and repeal the 100 year-old-plus ban on corporate contributions.

“This bill is a massive, across the board assault on voting in Wisconsin. Government ought to be protecting and expanding our right to vote,” said Ross. “But Gov. Walker and top Republican leaders are going in the opposite direction, making it harder and less convenient to vote and easier to toss out votes cast by legal voters.”

Drafting records indicate that work began on one of the more egregious measures included in the package — limits on early voting hours that effectively ban weekend voting in larger municipalities and eliminate nonpartisan “souls to the polls” drives by churches —- on November 8th 2012, just two days after the November 2012 general election. A handwritten note associated with the draft of the provisions noted that Milwaukee allowed early voting on weekend and the intent of the bill was to eliminate it.

The work on the omnibus assault on voting was carefully overseen by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ office. Despite the drafting request being made by Assembly Campaigns and Elections chair Rep. Bernier and being introduced by Rep. Jeff Stone, Vos was given explicit permission to review preliminary drafts and correspondence between requesters and drafters. In addition, there is extensive correspondence between Vos staff and legislative attorneys drafting the language of the bill, giving directions and making modifications to the legislation.

Ross concluded, “The real fraud in Wisconsin elections today is politicians like Gov. Walker, Speaker Vos and their partisan underlings manipulating the rules to try to give themselves an unfair political advantage. And Assembly Bill 225 is exhibit A in the case against them.”

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