Mike Browne, Deputy Director
MADISON, Wis. — Assembly Republican leader Robin Vos’ office requested legislation to impose new restrictions on early voting a mere eight days after Wisconsinites turned out in record numbers for a midterm election, according to drafting records reviewed by One Wisconsin Now. A record 2.67 million voters cast their ballots, including over 565,000 who participated by early voting in person or absentee, in the election that saw Republicans suffer losses in every statewide office on the ballot.
“Wisconsin voters sent a clear message on November 6 that they wanted change,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Robin Vos sent a message back mere days later that he doesn’t respect them, or their right to vote.”
According to records reviewed by One Wisconsin Now, the office of Republican Assembly leader Robin Vos on November 14 requested legislation be drafted to restrict early voting in Wisconsin to no more than two weeks before the election.
The records also reveal that Vos was warned that the new scheme to restrict voter rights could run afoul of a 2016 federal court ruling. In that case, brought by One Wisconsin Now partner organization One Wisconsin Institute, federal Judge James Peterson found the early vote restrictions previously imposed by Wisconsin Republicans discriminated on the basis of race and were intended to give themselves a partisan advantage.
Legislation moving the date of a 2020 election, a move the Senate Republican leader publicly said is intended to help elect a conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice at a cost to state taxpayers of $7 million, was requested concurrent with the early voting restrictions. After Republicans emerged from closed door meetings in the Senate and Assembly they announced they intended to try to rig the election calendar for their benefit, but the early voting restrictions were kept secret until Friday when the bill drafts became public.
Ross concluded, “Robin Vos and his fellow Republicans are playing with legal fire as they keep trying to rig the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair advantage. Voters have said loud and clear they’ve had enough of this kind of stuff and it’s up to the Republicans to knock it off and listen.”