Poll workers prepare absentee ballots at Franklin's central count facility. Franklin is located in southwest Milwaukee County. Photo by David Wise, Nov. 3, 2020.

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections today passed along party lines a bill to ban municipal clerks from correcting defective information on absentee ballot envelopes.

Instead, clerks would have to mail the ballots back to the voter, who would then have to correct the form and resend it to the clerk’s office. It would also establish penalties for election officials who fail to report instances of election fraud.

Republicans have hailed measures this session meant to reform the election process after many in the GOP doubted its integrity. Election officials have noted no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin or any other state.

Meanwhile, Dems ahead of today’s vote slammed the bill as merely making it harder for people to legally vote rather than boosting integrity.

“This bill would make it more likely that someone’s legitimate vote would not be counted,” said Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit. “To correct minor errors is not adding any integrity, it’s just making it more likely that that envelope will not be opened and counted.

The committee chair, Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, dismissed Spreitzer’s comments by saying she feels absentee voting is a privilege.

“Election day is a right and the privilege of early voting is still a privilege,” she said.

And Rep. Donna Rozar, R-Marshfield, added that because GOP lawmakers see absentee voting as a privilege, voters who vote absentee have “some responsibility” in making sure the ballots are properly filled out.

See the bill here.

Watch the hearing.

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