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

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


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 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% of registered voters thought night and weekend hours should have remained in place or been expanded.

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