After being blocked by Democrats a day earlier, Republican state senators narrowly approved bills Wednesday to end weekend voting before elections, allow lobbyists to make political donations earlier in the political season and curb lawsuits by those exposed to asbestos. Under one bill, approved by a one-vote margin, early voting in clerks’ offices could occur only on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Clerks would not be able to hold early voting during all of that period, however, because they would be limited to allowing a total of 45 hours of early voting a week. Democrats told Republicans they saw the move as an effort to suppress voting by their supporters. “I feel like I’m in 1906, fighting the fights that people who came long before me had to fight,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who is African-American. “I would argue it screams of backward-thinking mentality, all the way back to Jim Crow, and you should be ashamed.”
Republicans did not speak on the merits of the bill during Wednesday’s debate, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told reporters after the vote that the measure would level the playing field for urban and rural areas because rural clerks don’t have the staff to keep the long hours that cities do.
“It’s difficult for people to turn on Channel 6 in Milwaukee … and there’s a shot of someone voting during a time when it’s not available to people in rural areas,” Fitzgerald said.
The bill — as with all others approved Wednesday — passed on a 17-16 vote, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) joining all Democrats in opposing the measure.
Full Article: In narrow vote, Senate backs ending early voting on weekends.