Earlier today, Governor Tony Evers vetoed a batch of six Republican-authored election bills.
Legislative Republicans argued those bills were essential to preserve the integrity of future elections. Democrats and civil rights groups called them voter suppression.
The package of six bills sought to — among other things — alter absentee voting procedures, change voting policies for nursing home residents and bar election officials from filling in missing info on absentee ballot envelopes.
Another bill would have placed restrictions on ballot collection events — such as Madison’s Democracy in the Park events, during which poll workers collected absentee ballots.
Legislative Republicans said the bills would tighten election security and close potential loopholes in the state’s voting laws. But, during a press conference at the state capitol today, Governor Tony Evers said GOP lawmakers were attempting to alter election rules to benefit themselves.
“They’re trying to stack the deck so they get the results they want this time. They’re trying to make it harder for every eligible person to cast their ballot,” Evers said.
Since last November’s presidential election, Republicans across the country have introduced a proverbial mountain of restrictive voting legislation.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, as of July, lawmakers in 49 states had collectively introduced more than 400 bills that sought to restrict voting access. So far this year, at least 18 states have enacted tighter voting laws.
Most of those bills are in direct response to repeated lies spread by former President Donald Trump and his adherents. Trump, who lost Wisconsin by a roughly 21,000 vote margin, repeatedly alleged widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin and other swing states.
The Associated Press reports that Wisconsin election officials are currently investigating 27 potential voter fraud cases stemming from the presidential election. That’s out of 3.3 million ballots cast in the state last November.
Evers accused legislative Republicans of peddling conspiracy theories during today’s press conference.
“Republican legislators have made noise about this since the days before the election last November, and they’ve convinced a number of their constituents that there is a problem,” the Governor said.
Evers and legislative Democrats aren’t the only ones who took issue with the bills.
As part of the package, Republicans sought to overhaul absentee and indefinitely confined voter provisions. That would have included new voter ID and registration policies for indefinitely confined voters.
An indefinitely confined voter is someone who is unable to cast their ballot in-person — and they’re one of the few groups excluded from Wisconsin’s voter ID laws.
Jenny Neugart, of Wisconsin’s Disability Vote Coalition, says changing those policies could disenfranchise voters with disabilities.
“These bad voting bills would significantly restrict the abilities of voters with disabilities, older adults and many other Wisconsin voters from participating in the voting process,” Neugart said at today’s press conference. “Absentee voting is a lifeline for people with disabilities, with transportation barriers and unpredictable medical conditions.”
According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, more than a quarter million people claimed indefinitely confined voter status last November. That’s up from about 67,000 folks in the November 2016 election.
In a ruling this past December, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that it was up to each individual voter to determine whether or not they are indefinitely confined. Many chose to apply for the status last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But, speaking to reporters in February, Republican Assembly speaker Robin Vos argued that the indefinitely confined voter status was abused during the November election.
“The very idea that somebody who is out living their normal life, acting as if they are not indefinitely confined, and using that as a way to circumvent the photo ID law should be something that all of us are upset about,” Vos said.
Governor Evers’ vetoes have, unsurprisingly, faced pushback from Wisconsin’s Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu wrote in a press release that the Governor “showed he’s committed to keeping the same laws and loopholes that were exploited during the pandemic.”
Speaker Vos wrote that Evers was “making another momentous mistake with his veto pen.”
PHOTO: Jonah Chester