A public hearing on Assembly Bill 637 today underscores serious flaws in the proposal that put it at odds with a federal court decision protecting early voting. Under the the bill municipalities would be allowed to use electronic voting machines to process early votes. But additional provisions would require different processes for counting early votes depending on where the vote is cast and re-impose restrictions on dates and times of early voting to eliminate weekend and some evening hours.
In the ruling in One Wisconsin Institute, et al. v. Thomsen, et al., the federal court found the elimination of weekend and evening early voting to be intentional race discrimination. The court also struck down state law that prevented municipalities from offering multiple early voting locations.
Since the ruling, the City of Madison has offered early voting at public libraries and the City of Milwaukee in its recently adopted budget expanded satellite voting to eight locations. Many other municipalities across the state have also offered satellite locations and extended hours to make voting easier and more convenient.