MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republicans have renewed their war on electoral participation with State Assembly Representative Duey Stroebel’s latest scheme to end weekend and evening in-person absentee voting and restricting the number of hours during which legal Wisconsin voters could cast early ballots at their municipal clerk’s office.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “The Republican assault on early voting is a clear and present danger to democracy in Wisconsin. The right to vote is a constitutional, sacred right and Wisconsin Republicans are literally standing in the doorway to prevent certain voters from exercising the franchise.”
Under Stroebel’s bill, municipal clerks would be prohibited from allowing voters to cast early votes other than between the hours of 7:30am to 5pm Monday through Friday and would restrict the total number of hours during which early votes could be cast to 40 hours per week. The bill would take the unprecedented step of statutorily banning local election administrators from facilitating greater electoral participation by offering extended hours so that working people could cast early votes after normal work hours or on the weekends.
Ross concluded, “Wisconsin has some of the best voter participation in the country, and we are rightly proud of that. And that’s what makes politicians like Duey Stroebel and his racist, elitist legislation to make it harder for minorities and working people to vote all the more shameful.”
In November 2012 nearly 400,000 Wisconsin residents took advantage of early voting and roughly one in four ballots cast in 2008 were cast early. Several local clerks, including those in the City of Milwaukee and Madison, responsible for administering elections offered extended hours for voting to allow working people to participate in democracy and cast their vote after work or on weekends. Among faith communities, churches organize non-partisan weekend voter participation drives to increase community involvement in voting – something Stroebel’s bill is designed specifically to end.
According to Ross, Stroebel’s bill is, sadly, not the first instance of Wisconsin Republican’s efforts to manipulate state law to win elections. Republicans passed a voter ID law, currently enjoined from enforcement over constitutional concerns, that could have disenfranchised an estimated 300,000 legal Wisconsin voters and gerrymandered state legislative districts so that they gained legislative seats despite garnering 200,000 fewer votes for their candidates in the November 20112 elections.
He continued, “People want to do their civic duty and participate in elections, and how dare Republican politicians make that duty more difficult by limiting the hours that local clerks can offer early voting.”