UPDATE: Gov. Walker signs bill restricting absentee voting, with - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Gov. Walker signs bill restricting absentee voting, with partial veto

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin residents will no longer be allowed to vote by in-person absentee ballot on nights or weekends under a new state law signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) Thursday.

The law states municipalities, such as the City of Madison, can only allow in-person absentee voting Monday through Friday, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the two weeks prior to a statewide election.  Past law allowed for municipalities to also offer night and weekend hours during that two week period.

Gov. Walker vetoed a section of the bill that would limit in-person absentee voting to 45 total hours per week.  The Governor also vetoed a section requiring municipalities to provide compensation to individuals who assist with in-person absentee voting.

Both sides in the debate over the issue base their arguments on the concept of fairness, but their definitions of that are very different.

"The idea that you would have more hours to vote in Madison than say DeForest, is just unfair on its face," said Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who authored the bill. 

"There is a quote that hangs in classrooms across our state.  It says: 'fair is not everyone getting the same thing, fair is everyone getting what they need to be successful,'" said Alder Lisa Subeck, who represents District 1 in the City of Madison.

Scot  Ross, Executive Director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, says the issue didn't die with the Governor's signature.  He vows to file suit to overturn the law.

"The Wisconsin Constitution guarantees in Article 3, Section 1 that anybody over the age of 18 has the right to access the polls and I think any kind of challenge would start with that," said Ross.

But Sen. Grothman believes there is no case to make against the law.

"The whole thing lawsuits are about are about equal access.  How in the world, when we're making access more equal, could you say we have a constitutional problem?," asked Sen. Grothman.

Results of a Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday show that 66 percent of registered voters thought night and weekend hours should have remained in place or been expanded.


MADISON (WKOW) -- A bill that would strictly limit in-person absentee voting hours to weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. has been sent to Gov. Walker's desk, who has not yet said whether he will sign it.

Thursday afternoon, Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) will join leaders from several voting advocacy groups to deliver more than ten thousand petitions to the Governor, urging him to veto the bill.

In-person absentee voting is currently allowed for the two weeks prior to an election, including nights and weekends.  Results of a Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday show that 66 percent of registered voters thought the current hours should remain in place or be expanded.

Republican legislative leaders argue that the current law is unfair, because smaller, rural communities cannot afford to offer extended voting hours the same way larger municipalities can.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.
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