Lawmaker says absentee voting bill will change, but clerks still concerned

2013-03-05T18:25:00Z Lawmaker says absentee voting bill will change, but clerks still concernedDEE J. HALL | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6132

A bill that would limit the hours and days voters can cast in-person absentee ballots will be amended, its author said Tuesday, but the changes failed to assuage some municipal clerks concerned about its impact.

Rep. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said the changes will allow small town clerks to make appointments with voters to cast such ballots beyond normal business hours and on weekends. Stroebel also plans to amend the bill to add another hour during the work day in which voters could cast ballots at their local clerk's office, to 6 p.m. from the original 5 p.m. Those hours, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., would apply to the three weeks leading up to an election week.

Stroebel said he introduced Assembly Bill 54 in response to "a small handful of municipalities" that offered expanded office hours for in-person absentee voting in the last election. Madison and Milwaukee, traditional Democratic strongholds, were among those cities. In all, 514,115 people cast in-person absentee ballots in the November election, according to the Government Accountability Board.

"The overarching goal has always been to standardize voting statewide to make the voting process more equal and fair, and I believe that this bill does just that," Stroebel said in a statement. "There is room for reasonable flexibility for municipalities, while still ensuring equal and fair opportunities to vote statewide."

But the president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association and the chairwoman of the Milwaukee Election Commission both said Tuesday that the revised bill fails to achieve the uniformity and fairness that Stroebel says he's seeking. Waterford Village Clerk Vikki Zuehlke said small municipalities can't afford to stay open for the maximum 40 hours spelled out in the bill. And clerks of larger communities such as hers can't afford to make private appointments with voters beyond the 40 hours they already work.

"My biggest concern is legislation cannot be written as one size fits all," Zuehlke said. "The clerks that work in their communities know what works for them."

Stephanie Findley, chairwoman of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said thousands of people use in-person absentee voting in Milwaukee. And restricting hours will mean longer lines, she said.

"We need to have as many opportunities as possible for people to participate," Findley said. "Is the point to make it so people don't want to come out and vote?"

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(14) Comments

  1. MissInformed
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    MissInformed - March 07, 2013 9:56 am
  2. mzd
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    mzd - March 06, 2013 10:33 am
    Check out the Cap Times insert Doonesbury strip! It would be hilarious if it wasn't true.

    Jim "Honest man" Andrews, a Republican says...

    Are Gerrymandering, roll purges, ID laws, registration hurdles, disinformation, early voting cutbacks, unequal resources and casing lists really getting the job done?

    Clearly not! It's time to get serious and double down with state-by-state election rigging!
  3. Mr Mellow
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    Mr Mellow - March 06, 2013 8:42 am
    The GOP's War On Voting Continues.

    In the name of fairness they legislate unfairness.

    In the name of local control they dictate from Madison.

    GOP -- thy name is hypocrisy.

    Oh, by the way, ALEC says the check's in the mail.

  4. witness2012
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    witness2012 - March 05, 2013 9:47 pm
    FoF, I would expect that the clerks- who set up the absentee ballots- even in suburban districts would prefer local control, to manage the process in a way that makes sense for their office, within their budget guidelines, and to their constituents.

    Where is the request to 'standardize the process statewide' coming from? Not the clerks, I suspect.
  5. Nav
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    Nav - March 05, 2013 8:52 pm
    Do we not have much more serious problems to deal with than tinkering with election laws? Are the people of Wisconsin demanding something be done about changing election laws? I don't think so!

    The Governor needs to be working on creating the 250,000 jobs he promised the taxpayers/voters/citizens of Wisconsin. The legislature should be passing bills that help the people of the state.

    Proposed bills such as these ONLY help the power hungry Republicans try to keep permanent control of the Government.
  6. irisK
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    irisK - March 05, 2013 8:43 pm
    President Obama won, Tammy Baldwin won, they must find a way to stop the majority from winning elections.
  7. Galileo
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    Galileo - March 05, 2013 8:17 pm
    Why not just pass a grandfather clause? Or great-grandfather clause?
  8. spooky tooth
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    spooky tooth - March 05, 2013 7:23 pm
    TB, Thats exactly what I was thinking, they keep trying different lipstick on this pig to see if it makes the pig look acceptable.

  9. TexasBadger
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    TexasBadger - March 05, 2013 7:12 pm
    Why don't they just pass a law that only Republicans can vote. That' what they seem to desire.
  10. bluffsinview
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    bluffsinview - March 05, 2013 7:05 pm
    This is just another blow to fair elections and, in a typical sneaky, Republican way, to eliminate even more access for voters who would tend to vote for Democrats. First they pass a Voter ID law to combat non-existent voter fraud. Then they gerrymander districts to ensure they stay in office. They write bills that affect agencies and the citizens without conferring with those to be most affected. They did with just recently with Circus World and the MacKenzie Center. They did it with the mining bill, ignoring the residents of the proposed mining area and the testimony of geologists and other experts. They pander to ALEC and their corporate bosses and wrest controls from local entities, not allowing them to raise tax levies although they took much needed funding from them. Yet they are supported by the tea party, that claims it's all for personal freedoms and rights. Doesn't anyone see the irony in that?
  11. Fact or Fiction
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    Fact or Fiction - March 05, 2013 6:58 pm
    @ witness2012, your're right this is not wanted by rural or urban communities. But - you forgot about the middle class. To Republicans that means those living in-between the city and the country - the SUBURBANITES of Mequon, Brookfield, and other well-to-do middle class communities.
  12. Fact or Fiction
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    Fact or Fiction - March 05, 2013 6:56 pm
    @ Liberalsmakesense - that sounds rather omnious. Maybe reword it so the capital police don't descend on you. How's this?

    "These Wisconsin Republican respectable leaders have innovative, yet slightly ecentric ideas, and the voters will reward them at the polls in a way that might put Democratic candidates in the majority again".

    And remember, no hats, pencils or paper, or other districtions in the capital if you visit there. Also, no singing.
  13. Liberalsmakesense
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    Liberalsmakesense - March 05, 2013 6:40 pm
    WHY fix something that is not broken? Why break something that is already fixed.

    These State Republicans have gone mad, and the people need to teach them a lesson they will never forget.
  14. witness2012
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    witness2012 - March 05, 2013 6:37 pm
    Why is this legislator so opposed to local control? And, why didn't he do his due diligence in advance and consult with municipal clerks? None of them- neither rural nor urban-want this legislation.

    It seems like it's a solution to a non-problem. So, the question that should be put to Representative Stroebel is, where is this really coming from and what is his real goal in pushing it?

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