It’s officially begun: the first motion against the controversial special session bills was filed in court this afternoon.
It’s specifically challenging the restriction on early voting… an issue that a Dane County judge already decided was unconstitutional in 2016.
One Wisconsin Now program director Analiese Eicher says they’re simply asking him to enforce that decision this time around.
“He was very clear in his ruling in that early voting cannot be restricted in the state of Wisconsin, as it is unconstitutional,” Eicher says.
Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans say that the move is meant to make the process uniform across the state. In bigger cities like Madison and Milwaukee, early voting often starts several weeks before an election. But most smaller municipalities can’t afford that.
“I like early voting,” Walker says. “I just like it to be fair.”
Citizen Action of Wisconsin is another lead plaintiff on the case. Their spokesperson Rob Kraig says the move from Republicans isn’t about uniformity. Kraig says if that were the case, they would fund smaller municipalities so they’re able to open early voting locations sooner.
“In a large city like Milwaukee … there are a lot more people and a lot more people who have trouble voting … on election day,” Kraig says. “What’s really behind this is an attempt to reduce the amount of voting in among constituencies that Republicans believe are more likely to vote Democratic.”
The lame duck bills go beyond early voting — and critics accuse them of stripping power from the newly elected Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers. The new laws put extra legislative approval requirements on the governor for actions like administrative rules and accepting federal waivers.
The bills also codify work requirements for medicaid. Kraig says he expects this motion won’t be the last of the legal hurdles the new laws will have to go through.
The plaintiffs hope that full early voting will be in place by the spring 2019 elections.