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Study: Voting getting harder in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- In the time since the 2020 presidential election, many states have changed their election laws. Some states have made it easier to vote. Some states have made it harder to vote. Now, the Election Law Journal has published a new edition of the Cost of Voting Index to help people understand how those changes are affecting everyone's ability to cast their ballots. 

"It's a measure that tries to capture all of the different election laws that affect access to voting," David Canon, a political science professor at UW-Madison and the editor-in-chief of the Election Law Journal, said. "As a voter, you don't like to have to go through a bunch of hoops to be able to vote. You'd like to be able to have it easier to vote rather than harder to vote."

However, the index classifies Wisconsin voters as facing more challenges when trying to vote now compared to 2020. The state dropped from 38 in the 2020 ranking to 47 in the 2022 index. 

"Wisconsin actually was the state, of the 50 states, that had the biggest move in the direction making it harder to vote," Cannon said. 

He said the change is mostly due to court rulings that make drop boxes illegal and affect how voting works for people who are indefinitely confined. 

"It used to be that once you demonstrated your need to be confined and have an absentee ballot sent to your nursing home, that you just did that once," Cannon said. "Now, you have to do that every election."

Despite the increased challenges voters face, there are some bright points in Wisconsin elections. 

The state allows people to register to vote on election day, and voters usually turn out in large numbers. 

"We still rank typically the top three to four in this in the nation in turnout," Canon said. "So, even despite these obstacles to voting, we still have a very strong voter turnout record." 

Canon said he's hopeful the index clues people in to voting accessibility trends across the country and doesn't discourage anyone who is interested in voting. 

"I don't want any story like this to discourage people and think 'oh my gosh, I can't vote anymore.' We still absolutely can still vote," he said. 

The general election is on November 8. You can check your voter registration or register to vote on myvote.wi.gov.

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