Senate Committee Passes Bill to Standardize Early Voting Times Statewide

MacIver News Service | March 6, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] The Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs voted 3-2 on Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 324, which would standardize the times allowed for early voting across the state.

SB 324, authored by Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), was amended during the committee’s executive session to provide that municipalities only allow voting in-person by absentee between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, for a total of 45 hours per week. The individual municipalities would decide the exact hours of availability.

The author of the bill said it is very important to ensuring equal opportunity to vote for all Wisconsin residents and expected a vote from the full Senate soon.

“It is important that we do something toward establishing uniformity for early voting around the state,” Grothman told the MacIver News Service after the meeting. “I will be very disappointed if it is not voted on in the Senate.”

Opponents to the bill said standardizing the early voting times would disenfranchise voters, however.

“I am not comfortable with a standard that treats a community that has 50 people or 500 people the same as Milwaukee that has more than a half million people,” Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said during the meeting. “I am very concerned on this kind of measure.”

The Assembly version of the bill, Assembly Bill 54, was passed in committee last month. Both versions have yet to be scheduled for a vote in each house.