While Republicans across the country are waging a coordinated attack on civil rights, Gov. Tony Evers is standing strong in defending the right to vote for Wisconsinites.
Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature are attempting to ram through a number of proposals that would severely limit access to the ballot box if passed. The proposals include drowning voters in paperwork when they apply for an absentee ballot, revoking thousands of voters of their existing absentee ballot status, imposing photo ID requirements, restricting drop boxes to one per county, and more.
Gov. Evers, however, has made it clear he will veto this voter suppression legislation, making him the only thing standing in the way of Republican’s attempts to turn Wisconsin into states like Georgia and Iowa. In both those states, Republican governors readily signed legislation that weakens democratic institutions and limits voters’ access to the ballot box.
In a desperate attempt to cling to power after losing both the White House and the Senate, Republicans have introduced over 350 bills in 47 states — including 10 in Wisconsin — systematically designed to disenfranchise Black and brown voters and restrict voter turnout. Experts estimate these proposals could create hurdles for tens of millions of Americans.
Democratic governors are one of the strongest lines of defense in protecting Americans’ right to cast their ballots in free and fair elections. Across the country, Democratic governors have proven to be the difference between strengthening our democracy and eroding the right to participate in it.
Read more about Gov. Evers’ role in blocking Republican voter suppression tactics below:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Georgia-style voting restrictions won’t happen in Wisconsin. Here’s why
The tighter voting rules sweeping some states won’t happen in Wisconsin.
The reason: divided government.
Georgia Republicans this year drew cheers from their base and castigation from voting rights advocates, some businesses and Major League Baseball when they approved new voting laws this year. Similar dynamics are building in Texas and Florida, where Republicans control all of state government.
In Wisconsin, the situation is different. Republicans who control the Legislature are seeking to limit ballot drop boxes, restrict who can return absentee ballots for others and tighten rules for when elderly and disabled voters can automatically receive absentee ballots.
But Democratic Gov. Tony Evers plans to veto those measures if they get to him.
The inevitability of vetoes isn’t deterring Republican lawmakers. On Wednesday, the Senate Elections Committee held a hearing on several bills:
Senate Bill 203 would limit who could return absentee ballots for others. The measure is meant to prevent what Republicans disparage as ballot harvesting — having political groups collect many absentee ballots to return them to election officials.
Large-scale ballot collection didn’t happen in Wisconsin last year, but a Republican ballot-collection scheme in North Carolina in 2018 led to the invalidation of a congressional election and criminal charges.
Another provision of the bill would prevent activities like “Democracy in the Park.”
Senate Bill 206 would change the law that allows voters to have absentee ballots automatically sent to them by labeling themselves as indefinitely confined because of age or disability. Under the bill, thousands of people who designated themselves as confined last year would no longer have that status and would have to file new paperwork to automatically receive ballots.
Those under 65 would face more requirements to qualify as confined and anyone who falsely claimed the status could be charged with a crime.
Senate Bill 209 would allow each community to have one ballot drop box, which would have to be attached to the building where the municipal clerk’s office is located.
Current law doesn’t mention drop boxes, and some have questioned whether they’re legal. Republicans say the bill would ensure drop boxes can be used, while opponents say it would make them less accessible.
The measure would result in far fewer drop boxes in some places. Milwaukee has drop boxes in many of its libraries and Madison has them in fire stations.
Fixing ballot errors
Senate Bill 212 would bar election officials from filling in the witness addresses on absentee ballot envelopes.
The bipartisan state Elections Commission for more than four years has told clerks they could fill in that information if they have reliable information about the address of a witness. State law doesn’t allow absentee ballots to be counted if they are missing witness addresses.
The bill would require absentee ballots with missing information to be returned to voters for them to correct. That would likely result in some ballots not getting cast, especially if they were sent to clerks close to Election Day.