Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans are claiming lame-duck legislation would make early voting uniform across the state — a contention that was rejected by a federal judge two years ago. That same judge is expected to weigh in on the matter again if Walker signs the early voting restrictions in the coming weeks. Republican lawmakers included the early-voting limits in lame-duck legislation they sent to Walker last week that would also curb the powers of Walker’s Democratic successor, Tony Evers, and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. Wisconsin had a record round of early voting for a midterm election last month, helping Democrats win every statewide office. The legislation would limit early voting to a maximum of two weeks.
Now, local governments can offer as much early voting as they want. Madison and Milwaukee — the state’s largest cities and its Democratic strongholds — provided six weeks of it this fall. Smaller communities allowed early voting for much shorter periods.
The legislation “just says early voting should be uniform across the state of Wisconsin so that voters in one jurisdiction don’t have two or three times as much time to vote early as someone does in another jurisdiction,” Walker told reporters Tuesday. “To me, that’s about fairness.”
But under the legislation, early voting hours would still be decided by local officials — and thus would vary from one community to the next.