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Committee Hears Testimony on Election Law Changes for WI

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Wisconsin has been at the center of the last two presidential elections with recounts pursued after each contest. It's now among the states where conservative lawmakers are trying to approve voting restrictions. (Adobe Stock)
Wisconsin has been at the center of the last two presidential elections with recounts pursued after each contest. It's now among the states where conservative lawmakers are trying to approve voting restrictions. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
May 6, 2021

MADISON, Wis. -- A Wisconsin Senate committee heard testimony yesterday on a host of election-related measures. Critics describe the effort as a form of voter suppression, while supporters say they want to restore faith in the system.

The measures, authored by Republicans, surfaced amid allegations at the national level of widespread voter fraud. The claims were largely discredited by the courts. But many GOP controlled legislatures still have proposed restrictions.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, testified against the bills being considered in the Badger State.

"And this is corroding the very cornerstone of our democracy," Rothschild asserted. "You're playing with fire here, it's very dangerous."

He referred to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A Republican senator responded by saying the effort is not about perpetuating the "big lie" about the 2020 election, but rather creating consistency in applying state election laws.

Absentee voting is a focus of the proposed changes, including restrictions on drop boxes.

Another bill would bar any individual from helping more than one non-family member return their absentee ballot.

Tami Jackson, public policy analyst for the Wisconsin Board for People With Developmental Disabilities, argued the people her organization serves represent a significant portion of the state's non-driving population.

"Whenever we see bills that require somebody to get to someplace, that shoots up a flag for us that that's going to be really difficult for populations that can't use cars," Jackson explained.

Other Republicans backing the measures say the state needs to bring back confidence in the election system following the recent rhetoric from supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Even if the Legislature approves the changes, they're likely to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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