A Democratic candidate for governor says lawmakers should drop efforts to limit early voting hours in Wisconsin.
The Assembly is poised to pass a bill on Thursday that would restrict in-person absentee voting hours at local clerk’s offices to no more than 45 hours during the week and prevent clerks from staying open on weekends in the two weeks before an election. Democrat Mary Burke says the Legislature should be looking at ways to encourage voters to come to the polls, instead of limiting the ability of voters to cast a ballot. Burke says “I think it’s really important for Democracy that people have a voice, and that voice is strongest when they vote. And we have to make sure people feel there is a reason to vote and we don’t put up barriers.”
Republicans argue the change is needed to restore fairness to the system, since rural areas do not have the ability to extend their hours and stay open on weekends in the same way that clerks in urban areas have been able to in recent years. Burke counters that extended hours in larger cities are often the result of an increased demand from voters who may not have time to vote during normal business hours on a weekday.
Burke is also expressing concerns about comments from Republican Governor Scott Walker recently, where he expressed a willingness to call a special session of the Legislature to ensure a state law that requires voter’s to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls is in effect for next November’s election. That law has been blocked by the courts for almost two years and is currently awaiting a decision from the state Supreme Court. Burke says the effort is nothing more than an attempt at “voter suppression.”