Uniform Polling Hours Creating Controversy At Capitol As Session Draws To A Close

One Wisconsin Now Threatens Lawsuit If Passed

Sen. Grothman Responds

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As the regular floor session of the Legislature comes to a close for 2014, Senate Bill 324, which would standardize the times allowed for early voting across the state, is generating a lot of controversy at the State Capitol.

SB 324, authored by Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate today. SB 324 would permit municipalities to hold in-person voting by absentee ballot only 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.

During the 2012 Gubernatorial recall election, thousands of residents in the city of Milwaukee and the city of Madison used the extended evening and weekend hours to vote. Some Legislators expressed concern that the extended hours were unfair to voters in the rest of the state.

Opponents of the bill have decried SB 324 as an attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. On Monday, several groups on the left held a press conference to voice their concerns about the bill and others.

Mike Wilder, Wisconsin Jobs Now, said politicians should not be focusing on “decreasing the number of people who can vote.” In a story first reported by MediaTrackers, Wisconsin Jobs Now gained statewide attention back in 2011 when it offered free BBQ and prize drawings to people who participated in an absentee voting drive.

Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now said his organization would file a lawsuit if SB 324 became law, calling the legislation “racist and elitist.”

Sen. Glenn Grothman, in an exclusive interview with the MacIver Institute Tuesday, responded to Ross’ threat of a lawsuit:

I believe it is clearly constitutional. It adds uniformity, which is usually the thing that people would sue over. So I don’t know how we can increase uniformity and somebody would have a claim that we are hurting anybody

The Senate is currently on the floor, debating today’s extensive calendar.

Follow MacIver on Twitter @MacIverWisc for up to the minute coverage of SB 324.