The mayors of Wisconsin’s two largest cities believe Governor Scott Walker ought to veto legislation that restricts early voting. “He and others have talked about how bad it is to pass legislation in the dead of night. And here in the dead of night, the state legislature passed this bill which is going to make it much more difficult for people in the city of Milwaukee to vote early,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The Republican authored bill would allow in-person absentee voting the two weeks prior to the election for a total of 45 hours per week, with no weekend voting hours. It passed the Assembly and Senate with zero support from Democrats.
The bill’s Senate author, Senator Glenn Grothman, expressed his desire to “nip this in the bud” before the sort of extended early voting made available in Milwaukee and Madison spread to other areas. Republicans claim there’s a fairness issue, since smaller municipalities lack the resources to offer extended voting hours. “This bill is equality across the state,” said Assembly author, Representative Duey Stroebel.
“Let’s not lower the bar, let’s find ways of encouraging and raising the bar for everyone,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “I mean, they’re basically admitting then that what they’re trying to do is suppress the vote.”
Mayor Barrett predicted longer Election Day lines if Walker does not veto the legislation. “Those lines are going to be attributed to Governor Walker if he signs this into law,” Barrett said. “The right thing for him to do is to say that he’s the governor for all the people, not just the Republican communities, and veto this legislation.”
“There’s been a movement in this country for probably 50, 60 years now, since the beginning of the civil rights movement, to expand the opportunity to vote, to make it as easy as possible, to encourage as many folks to vote as possible. It’s just bet for our democracy,” said Soglin. “I certainly concur with Mayor Barrett. Hopefully the governor can veto this legislation.”
A spokesman for the governor said Walker is reviewing the bill.