WI Group Sees New Path Forward for Voting Rights
Friday, January 21, 2022
After a defeat on Wednesday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate say they'll keep trying to pass voting-rights legislation, and one Wisconsin group wants any new proposals to exclude a provision in the bill which did not pass.
Barbara Beckert, director of the Milwaukee office of Disability Rights Wisconsin, said the package considered by the Senate this week included a paper-ballot mandate. She pointed out it concerned many voters with disabilities, because the ability to cast a paper ballot, privately and independently, is not an option for some.
"We think it's important to have a carve-out for voters covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so they would not be required to vote by paper ballot," Beckert explained.
Beckert noted current law does not include such a mandate, and some folks with disabilities already use accessible voting machines or vote absentee without generating a paper ballot.
Last year, a coalition of 20 disability-rights groups voiced their opposition to the mandate, arguing it would disenfranchise voters with disabilities and stifle innovation to develop voting systems better suited to their needs.
Beckert added voting-rights legislation is important to ensure fair access for Wisconsinites. Her group thinks future efforts should include provisions for screen-reader-accessible and ADA-compliant absentee ballots.
"And that would allow equitable access to absentee voting for voters who are blind, or have other disabilities, where they do not have the ability to physically mark the ballot and need assistive technology," Beckert emphasized.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 19 states passed laws restricting voting access in 2021. Some similar bills in Wisconsin were vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
During this week's Senate debate, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., criticized her counterpart, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., for encouraging Wisconsin's Legislature to take control of the state's elections. Baldwin, quoting reporting from the New York Times, alleged Johnson had said the process was legally permissible.
"'An extraordinary legal argument debunked by a 1932 Supreme Court decision and a 1964 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court,' end quote from the New York Times," Baldwin said.
In a statement, Johnson argued Democrats, in attempting to bypass the filibuster to get the voting-rights legislation passed, were mounting a federal takeover of elections, calling the move a "naked power grab."
get more stories like this via email
More than 6 million Californians stopped out of college before getting a degree and a new report has laid out a plan to bring them back on campus…
North Carolina's public school system is facing a crisis, according to the recently released "Public Schooling in America 2024" report. It ranks the …
Health and Wellness
Advocates say Colorado legislative leaders are working to make the state a leader in addressing the youth mental health crisis. At least nine bills …
A coalition of organizations in Georgia is joining forces to combat the rising rate of suicide among children and teenagers. According to national …
Health and Wellness
A House bill aimed at increasing access to mental health care in Michigan could go to a vote on the House floor at any time. Rep. Felicia Brabec…
Rep. Ben Toma, R-Peoria, Speaker of the Arizona House, has introduced legislation with hopes to curtail illegal immigration and save Arizonans big in …
Most school and transit buses on the nation's roadways these days are still powered by diesel engines but in Wisconsin and elsewhere, there is hope …
By Jay Gabler for Arts Midwest.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the Arts Midwest-Public News Service Collabo…