MADISON, Wis. — State houses around the country are rushing to introduce new voting laws, targeting issues like absentee voting, drop boxes, and more. Despite an election filled with fraud allegations that found zero footing in any court of law, Wisconsin Republicans are no exception.
“Here in Wisconsin, and in states like Arizona, Georgia, a lot of other states–we’re seeing an effort to go in the other direction to make it harder to vote,” said Professor David Canon in the University of Madison’s political science department.
But the maze of voting bills isn’t just moving one way; states controlled by Democrats are introducing their own proposals. On top of it all, a massive federal voting reform bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives–although it stands little chance of garnering the ten Republican votes in the Senate that it would need to reach the required 60-vote threshold.
In Wisconsin, Republicans are targeting voting laws with a long list of circulating bills. Senator Duey Stroebel is one of those spearheading the effort, saying he’s trying to restore confidence in the system.
“We really just focused on the issues we’ve seen in Wisconsin and how to enhance the transparency, the consistency, and the integrity of the elections,” the Saukville senator said. He said he wasn’t following the lead of any other states, and was using internal team resources and the Legislative Reference Bureau to draft the bills.
The bills would tighten regulation of indefinitely confined voters and require them to use a photo ID for every election. Current law doesn’t require them to have one on file, unlike other voters–but about 80% do anyway, a recent report from the Wisconsin Elections Commission found. Other proposals would limit dropboxes to just those physically attached to a clerk’s office, and others would strike down guidance from the WEC that previously has been followed for several elections–like filling in missing addresses on absentee ballot envelopes.
“You can talk about guidance all day, but guidance does not one-up the statutes and the law, and that’s the issue we’re concerned about,” Stroebel said.
Canon said the bills showcase what Republican priorities could look like if the governor’s office changes party hands in 2022. Currently, few if any of the proposals are likely to receive Gov. Tony Evers (D) signature should they pass the Assembly and Senate.
“Those law changes wouldn’t be in effect for the 2022 election, but the could be in effect then for 2024 for the next presidential race,” Canon noted.
Republicans haven’t formally introduced the bills yet, but are awaiting a committee assignment that’s expected soon.
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