Wisconsin Legislature follows a nationwide systemic push against voting rights

By: and - April 6, 2021 7:00 am
MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Signage at an early voting center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Signage at an early voting center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Republican-led legislatures across the country continue a systematic push to pass laws they claim are aimed at ratcheting up election security. The policy debate over voting rights and election integrity has exploded in state houses, ignited by last year’s contentious elections where more people voted — particularly by absentee and mail-in ballot — than ever before.

“In a backlash to 2020’s historic voter turnout, and under the pretense of responding to baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, state lawmakers have introduced a startling number of bills to curb the vote,” states a report published Thursday April 1, by the Brennan Center for Justice. “As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. That’s 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills tallied as of February 19, 2021 — a 43% increase in little more than a month.” The Brennan Center reports that not only are the bills moving forward, they are starting to become law. Five such bills have already been signed into law and many more have passed at least one chamber.

The bills are arising so rapidly that estimates by national organizations that are tracking the bills, including the Brennan Center report, are low. For example, the report lists five Wisconsin bills (four of them restricting absentee voting), but the total in Wisconsin is already at 14 such bills.

Wisconsin bills: The ‘six worst’

Meagan Wolfe, the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections that she was confident that all local clerks ran “successful,” and “incredibly accurate” elections last November, even as the committee made accusations of fraud in Green Bay.  She added: “And I can also say secure, because we’re the ones that secure the statewide data [and] we have state of the art, trailblazing technology that protects every single Wisconsinite’s data in our state registry.”

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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.

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Nate Rau
Nate Rau

Nate Rau has a granular knowledge of Nashville’s government and power brokers, having spent more than a decade with the Tennessean, navigating the ins and outs of government deals as an investigative reporter. During his career at The Tennessean and The City Paper, he covered the music industry and Metro government and won praise for hard-hitting series on concussions in youth sports and deaths at a Tennessee drug rehabilitation center. In a state of Titans and Vols fans, Nate is an unabashed Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs fan.

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