State lawmakers are considering several reforms to help make voting easier in Wisconsin.
Lawmakers held a public hearing at the Capitol Wednesday on legislation that would simplify voter registration, expand options for absentee ballots, and punish those who try to disenfranchise voters. State Representative Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), a sponsor of the proposal, says the bill will streamline the process of registering to vote, make it easier for active duty military to cast ballots, and protect voters from intimidation.
During Wednesday’s committee hearing, a number of concerns were brought forward. Wauwatosa City Clerk Carla Ledesma says making it easier for voters to permanently request absentee ballots would put a major strain on printing and postage budgets, since local governments would have to print extra ballots and spend money on postage for elections that may normally only have a small voter turnout.
Republican lawmakers also questioned a provision that would require election observers to come from within a voting district. State Senator Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) says the restriction is needed to prevent ballot challenges from being used to intimidate voters.
Committee action on the legislation is expected on Thursday.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:22)