MADISON, Wis. — A 2016 federal court ruling in the voting rights suit One Wisconsin Institute, et. al. v. Thomsen, et. al. paved the way for expanded days, hours and sites for early voting in Wisconsin. After setting early absentee voting records in 2016, Wisconsin voters are again setting records with early absentee voting in 2018.
According to a report in the Wisconsin State Journal, City of Madison voters quadrupled the number of in-person absentee votes compared to four years ago with a total of 37,314 voters voting in person at the clerk’s office and at local libraries over a seven week period.
“The record early vote number shows that when you let voters vote, they vote,” said One Wisconsin Institute Program Director Analiese Eicher. “We’re proud to see these record numbers and more proud our voting rights case lawyer Josh Kaul beat Brad Schimel in court to overturn Scott Walker’s unconstitutional attack on early voting.”
Previously, state law had limited municipalities to only having one early voting location and laws passed by the Republican controlled legislature and Gov. Walker limited both the time period during which early voting could be offered to the ten business days before the election and limited the maximum hours for early voting.
When the federal court struck down the last round of anti-voter laws concocted by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature he found that they were rigging the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair advantage and disenfranchising legal voters because of where they lived and who they voted for. In his ruling, Judge James Peterson wrote that “The Legislature’s immediate goal was to achieve a partisan objective…” in passing early voting restrictions and that the measures were designed to suppress the votes of legal voters.
Reports from the Wisconsin Elections Commission show that statewide in 2018 Wisconsin voters cast 547,954 votes by either in person absentee or via mail with another 43,931 requested that will need to be returned to clerks’ offices across the state by Election Day.
Eicher concluded, “Our democracy needs us more than ever right now and expanded early voting makes it easier and more convenient than ever for legal voters to participate.”