GOP legislators vote to curtail voter participation

By: - January 10, 2022 5:13 pm
Man inserting his election ballot into an official drop box

Residents drop mail-in ballots in an official ballot drop box outside of the Tippecanoe branch library in Milwaukee in October 2020. (Scott Olson | Getty Images)

On Monday, the joint Senate and Assembly rules committee voted 6-4 along party lines with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats voting against requiring the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to draw up emergency rules to regulate ballot drop boxes and what election clerks are permitted to do regarding errors or missing information on absentee ballot envelopes. The Elections Commission will meet Tuesday on these issues.

In a statement after the vote, committee chair Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), put out a statement giving WEC 30 days to draw up emergency rules, which he then pointed out that his committee could suspend if the committee “determines the agency lacks statutory authority.”

Democrats on the committee — Sens. Chris Larson, Kelda Roys and Rep. Gary Hebl and Lisa Subeck — released a joint statement in response to what they dubbed an action aimed “at reducing absentee voting in Wisconsin.”

The four Democrats wrote: “On the one year anniversary of the Republican-led insurrection in Washington, D.C., Senator Nass and the Republicans … announced a vote to further limit voter participation.

“Nass and others are hell-bent on maintaining power, even if it means undermining democracy. From their illegitimate gerrymandered majority to voter suppression and amplifying the Big Lie, Wisconsin’s legislative Republicans have made their disdain for Wisconsin voters clear.”


Sunday on UpFront on WISN News in Milwaukee, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos again extended the deadline for  Michael Gableman’s ongoing 2020 presidential election probe, moving it to the end of February, when Vos said he expects a final report.

During the WISN interview, Vos said that date would still allow the Legislature to “utilize that as part of the evidence we present to the people of Wisconsin as to why we need to make the changes,” to election law or rules, Vos said.

Vos also told WISN that he gives updates to former President Donald Trump as to what is going on with the review: “Oh yeah, I’ve talked to him. I wouldn’t say on a regular basis, but half a dozen times just to keep him up-to-date to make sure he understands what’s happening but to know we are doing our very best.”

During the UpFront interview, Vos also said that he did not support dissolving the Wisconsin Elections Commission or putting the secretary of state, a partisan office currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette, in charge of election administration. Vos had previously said he believes five of the six WEC commissioners — including his own appointee former GOP Rep. Dean Knudson — should be criminally charged for actions on the commission he believes violated the law.

Vos also, in an interview with the Associated Press, disagreed with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s expressed desire to see the Legislature take over elections, replacing the Elections Commission. GOP Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, made similar comments last week, telling AP he is opposed to “blowing up” the bipartisan Elections Commission.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin was the Wisconsin Examiner's founding Deputy Editor, serving from its launch July 1, 2019, until Feb. 1, 2022. She 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 before returning to journalism at the 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.