Wisconsin: In narrow vote, Senate backs ending early voting on weekends | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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.”

Wisconsin: Senate narrowly passes package of election measures, including early voting limits | Associated Press

With just one vote to spare, Republicans who control the state Senate on Wednesday passed a series of hotly contested election law changes, including disallowing casting early votes on the weekends or past 7 p.m. in the two weeks leading up to an election. All 15 Democrats were joined by Republican Sen. Dale Schultz, who is not seeking re-election, in voting against the bills. All six proposals, which also included measures to delay asbestos lawsuits and limit liability for parents of teen drivers, passed 17-16. Democrats, who used a procedural move Tuesday to delay the final votes until Wednesday morning, renewed their arguments that Republicans were trying to make it more difficult for people to vote, particularly minorities in Milwaukee and Madison. “It screams of backward-thinking mentality, all the way back to Jim Crow and you should be ashamed,” said Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor, of Milwaukee, who is black. Jim Crow laws dating back to the 19th century mandated segregation in some U.S. states.

Wisconsin: Democrats allege robocalls, ‘dirty tricks’ in recall election | JSOnline

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign is warning voters that his opponents might be engaged in “dirty tricks” after some voters said they’ve received robocalls claiming they don’t have to vote Tuesday if they signed the recall petition. The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County also said it is receiving reports of such robocalls and accused supporters of Gov. Scott Walker of placing them. “These tactics aren’t just shady and troubling. They’re un-American and downright criminal,” said Sachin Chheda, Milwaukee County Democratic Party chairman.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board fails faster recall rules, evaluates Voter ID stickers | The Badger Herald

On Thursday, state election officials retracted changes which could have circulated recall petitions for the possible upcoming recall efforts more efficiently, including the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker. At a meeting Thursday, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules oversaw several of the Government Accountability Board’s retracted plans to recall election operations, including the distribution of online petitions.

At the meeting, Kevin Kennedy, head of the GAB, said the rule changes previously sought would allow an individual to open a “petition for recall” online with both their name and address on the form, increasing the speed of the petition’s circulation. This petition would also be considered valid even if this individual was the only one to sign the petition, he said.

Kennedy said this proposition would have allowed for a faster process because groups would not have to gather the signatures face-to-face and the petition signers would not have to fill in their addresses.

Wisconsin: Fee waiver pushed for copies of birth certificates | JSOnline

Reacting to a new state law that requires photo identification for voting, some state and local officials are pushing to waive the $20 fee for copies of Milwaukee County birth certificates.

Earlier this year, the Legislature adopted the voter ID law, which says voters must show one of several approved forms of photo identification – such as a driver’s license – at the polls, starting next year. For those who don’t have a driver’s license, lawmakers provided for the state Division of Motor Vehicles to waive fees for state ID cards at a voter’s request.

But applicants still need copies of their birth certificates to obtain either driver’s licenses or state ID cards. And state law sets fees of $20 for the first copy and $3 for subsequent copies. That’s $60 for a family with one voting-age child “to exercise the constitutional right of voting,” state Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) told a Milwaukee Common Council committee Monday. “That just seems like it’s a poll tax.”

Wisconsin: GOP lawmakers consider changes to recall petition process | JSOnline

Republican lawmakers signaled Tuesday that they will likely give Gov. Scott Walker authority over how recall petitions can be gathered, just as Democrats gear up to recall him next year.

The move would allow Walker to halt a policy developed by nonpartisan election officials that, at least in theory, could make it easier for groups to gather signatures to recall the governor, as well as legislators from either party. “You have given the governor control of the chicken coop, so to say,” Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) told Republicans.

But GOP lawmakers raised concerns that election officials had gone too far with their interpretation of state laws and said the governor and lawmakers should have a chance to weigh in on them. Under the changes Republicans are considering, Walker would also get to decide whether universities can put stickers on their identification cards that would allow them to be used for voting.

Wisconsin: Proposal would mean more communication from state about free voter IDs | Superior Telegram

The Department of Transportation (DOT) would be required to be more upfront that ID’s required for voting are free, under a bill being circulated by a Democratic state lawmaker.

Normally, an ID would cost $28 dollars. But for those people who just need an ID for voting purposes, it’s free under the new voter ID law. But Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee says the law is still causing confusion for voters.

“You can do this, but you can’t do that. You’ve got to jump through this hoop and not that hoop,” says Taylor. “I just want to make sure that the DOT is doing the piece that complements so that the concept of whether or not you need to have an ID and whether or not you need to pay for it, that there is no confusion.”