WI Legislature Poised to Pass New Election, Voting Bills
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
The Wisconsin Legislature is poised to approve more than a dozen voting and election-related bills this week, over objections from Democrats and voting-rights groups they would make it more difficult to cast a ballot.
The bills would, among many other things, set multiple new requirements for absentee ballots, give a legislative committee significant oversight of election administration and establish new policies for voting in nursing homes.
Rep. Rick Gundrum, R-Slinger, said the new guidelines will help ensure the security of future elections.
"We are at a time when Americans no longer have faith in our election system," Gundrum asserted. "As state legislators, we have an obligation to implement legislation that will restore integrity in our voter system."
The bills will be voted on by the Senate Tuesday, and The Associated Press reports they will likely get a final vote in the Assembly Thursday. However, they face an all-but-certain veto from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
The Republican-authored bills are part of a nationwide wave of restrictive voting measures. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, so far this year, more than 250 such bills have been introduced, pre-filed or carried over from prior sessions.
Rep. Tod Ohnstad, D-Kenosha, in a committee hearing Monday, argued the changes proposed by Republicans would undermine confidence in elections.
"Don't you believe we should be doing all that we can to make sure that it's easy for people to vote?" Ohnstad asked. "This just goes in the opposite direction, where we are trying to make it hard for people to vote. And I think that's what would eventually actually erode confidence in our electoral system."
The bills were introduced this month, and voting-rights advocates have accused GOP lawmakers of fast-tracking them through the committee and public-hearing process.
While Evers is likely to veto them, the bills offer a glimpse of what Wisconsin's election administration could look like should the governor lose his reelection bid in November.
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