A Republican lawmaker is proposing limits on the hours and days voters can cast in-person absentee ballots even as such voting increases in popularity in the state.

The bill would have a heavy impact in Madison, one of several municipalities that have held extended hours on nights and weekends to accommodate in-person absentee voters.

Critics said the bill, introduced in the state Assembly late last week, would force municipalities to spend more on mail-in absentee ballots while making it harder for people to vote.

The measure proposed by Rep. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, would prohibit clerks from opening early, late or on weekends to accommodate voters wishing to cast their ballots before Election Day.

Stroebel aide John Soper said the bill aims to give residents of smaller communities the same access to absentee voting as those in larger communities that can afford to hold extended balloting.

"To have those disparities for in-person absentee balloting, Representative Stroebel believes, is not fair," Soper said. "His focus is on equality in the system. That's the way he views it."

Democrats are heading in a different direction. Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Shorewood, is drafting a bill that would allow clerks to designate one or more additional locations for in-person absentee balloting beyond the local clerk's office.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, called the Stroebel bill the latest among the "anti-democracy measures" proposed by Republicans, such as eliminating same-day voter registration — which was floated but shelved late last year — and the controversial voter ID law passed in 2011 that's still tied up in the courts.

"Why is it Republicans feel there are too many people in Wisconsin who are voting?" Barca asked.

More than half a million voters

Casting a ballot before Election Day at the local clerk's office has become popular in Wisconsin, with more than 500,000 voters doing so in the November general election, according to figures released Monday by the state Government Accountability Board.

Assembly Bill 54 would confine such in-person absentee voting to 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the three weeks leading up to an election week. It also would prohibit a clerk from remaining open to receive in-person ballots more than 40 hours a week during that three-week absentee-voting period. Absentee voters who don't vote in person at the clerk's office mail in their ballots.

Diane Hermann-Brown, past president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, said she sees a variety of potential problems with Stroebel's bill. Her office in the city of Sun Prairie is open 42 1/2 hours a week normally, and, by statute, 43 1/2 hours the week before an election. She wondered about the practical effect of having her staff turn away absentee ballots while accepting dog licenses and handling other duties.

Hermann-Brown also questioned what clerks would do if absentee voters are still in line at 5 p.m. Sun Prairie had an hour and a half wait among absentee voters at 5 p.m. on the Friday before the November election, she said.

"This bill, the way it is written, creates a lot of questions and confusion," she said.

Driving up costs?

Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said the bill also could drive up costs. Witzel-Behl said the cost of each mailed absentee ballot is $4.79 compared to 55 cents for ballots cast in person. In all, 18,752 people cast ballots at the counter while 11,652 people mailed in their ballots in November's election, she said.

Limiting in-person absentee voting "really would have a big effect on Madison and I think Milwaukee, where not everyone is very close to the clerk's office," she said. "The bigger the city, the longer the travel time to get to the city clerk's office."

The proposal could be even more vexing for clerks in small towns, who often work part-time and at the convenience of local residents, said Richard Stadelman, executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association. Stadelman said it's not unusual for small-town clerks to open their offices on nights and weekends to accommodate in-person absentee voting. He said his group opposes the bill as written.

Soper said Stroebel plans to amend the bill to add flexibility for small communities.

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(91) comments

kashka-kat
kashka-kat

Oh fer pete sakes. This is just plain voter suppression again, plain and simple. Equality my arse - any Wis. voter is free to vote absentee - don't even have to go to the clerk's office - do it all by mail from the convenience of your own home:

http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters/absentee

Urban and/or poorer areas tend to not have the same quantity and quality of voting machines and ease of voting as suburban counties - so that's where you see the long lines and hour long waits - which yes, does suppress voting. All the better for the Repubs if the lines and the waits are even longer.

While we're at it let's talk about how we are going to "equalize" access to voting equipment on voting day..

Voting is a right, not a privilege.

gobi
gobi

Read the Capital Times Doonsberry Cartoon. Sums up nicely the Repulican election plans. They know that they will become extinct unless elections can be rigged.

Lionhear
Lionhear

@WSJ--Where is the story about one of Hulsey's aides asking for a restraining order on him? You know, the state senator that wants to bring a gun into the capitol building without a CW permit. For those interested, check out Milw. Journal/Sentinel for the story.

Comment deleted.
S54k
S54k

Ha ha , gd, and how many jobs is this going to create? Oh yeah, creating jobs was the lure, now that he's in obviously his focus has changed. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice (the recall doesn't count) shame on me!

gobi
gobi

Why do Republicans hate Democracy??

Liberalsmakesense
Liberalsmakesense

In the old days they had literacy tests that suppressed votes. The modern version of that is the "time to vote" test. If you don't vote within a very short period of time, you can't vote.

This is PATHETIC!

Nav
Nav

The Republicans continue to murder democracy in our state. Workers have lost many of their rights in the workplace under the Walker administration. Now, voters are beginning to lose their rights that are guaranteed to them by the constitution, and practices that have been in place for decades.

If there is ANYONE who thinks this benefits them, they are not thinking right.

bookman21
bookman21

The GOP is sticking to the game plan started by President Alzheimer's 30 years ago.
Misinform.
Divide and Conquer
Disenfranchise
Cheat

Tricolor Dog
Tricolor Dog

Middleoftheroad wears his stupidity and his partisanship like a badge of honor. My question is this: which road do I have to drive down to find you out there in the middle?

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

Make it a parlor game. I have in the past suggested that it might be ...
 • Wisconsin Hwy. righty-three
 • the far (rightmost) edge of Waukesha County
 • Ayn Rand Boulevard
 • Good Intentions Avenue
I'm sure the many creative minds on this board can come up with even better ones.

For added enjoyment, chug a shot every time you see one.

Tricolor Dog
Tricolor Dog

LOL...BTW I like most of your posts, thanks.

knittingnancy
knittingnancy

Middle is due for another name change. All that runs down the middle is a yellow stripe. guess he didn't notice. As for absentee voting, isn't that used mostly by the elderly and

knittingnancy
knittingnancy

Absentee voting is used mainly by those who are elderly and/or infirm and find it hard to stand long periods in line to vote or wonder if the weather will keep them at home. Why limit these people??

witness2012
witness2012

Or people who will be out of town, which is when I voted absentee.

By restricting the hours to working hours, it would have made it very difficult for me to make it to the city clerk's office to vote.

The written absentee ballots are still available, but as someone who works the polls, it is easier to disqualify a written absentee ballot if you don't pay attention to all the directions about where to sign, etc. In-person is dead-easy to get right. It's also significantly cheaper than processing the written ballots.

We should make it easier, not more difficult to vote.

witness2012
witness2012

Isn't the middle of the road where the dead armadillos are? (Title of a Jim Hightower book).

jrclen
jrclen

This is bizarre and hopefully the saner minds will just shoot it down. It makes no sense. Go after voter fraud and vote counting fraud. And maybe give us some real choices at the ballot box. Baldwin and Thompson? Obama and Romney? Really? I won't bother to get dressed and go outside for that.

sarge
sarge

personally when I absentee vote I like to do it in person and see my ballot sealed into an elvelope by the clerk at my town hall. then i know these partisan folks walker has injected into the polling places arent you know..."losing" my mailed in ballot. call me paranoid but there it is.

funny how the goal in the US for many years was to increase our participation in the electoral process till suddenly the party of old white rich guys and igniorant rednecks found themselves behind the 8 ball popularity wise and well as demographically speaking...and now we try to restrict voting with techniques clearly aimed at 9 to 5 pm working people....e the group least likely to vote republican

canthisbeso
canthisbeso

Look at the picture--these are all old people--want to disinfranchise them too?

what justice
what justice

'MOTR' states below: "enough is enough. Now we just have piles of people who just want to vote when it's more convenient for them"

This is unintentionally revealing. Is our vote not valid unless we are substantially enough inconvenienced? What does 'inconvenience' have to do with voting? Or, put more plainly: why on earth would we not want to make voting as convenient as possible? Why?

The obvious conclusion, reached by many posters here is that you want to have fewer people vote--because the voters who are more greatly inconvenienced by voting within specific hours are more likely to vote for your opponents.

It's cynical and disgraceful. Shame on you, Republicans; make a case for your issues, don't prevent citizens of your state from voting.

Being inconvenienced because we don't want to miss our Softbal league, or favorite show is nt a valid reason for the state andcounties to incur extra costs for your benefit. Voting is availabel to you. I am not required to spoon feed it or carry you there.Don't give me the shame on you crap. No one is preventing anyone from voting just because we don't allow expanded hrs. Please make the case for Why we should allow people to vote weeks ahead before all debate is heard? If you have a valid reason and cannot make it on election day, then fine. If you don't then we shouldn't allow you to jam up the lines that are intended for those who cannot.

blockhead
blockhead

Another republican sleezy trick to wittle down likely Democratic voters, backed by right wing (not middle of the road) trolls.

what justice
what justice

Now you're just making it up--dreaming up nightmare scenarios.

"not preventing"? Come on. You put a policy in place. Fewer people vote as a result of the policy. are you really going to argue that the policy doesn't "prevent" voting?

You want fewer people to vote! You think other tests besides CITIZENSHIP are required to assure that only 'more responsible' people vote! You think: if you can't overcome "inconvenience", then we don't want you choosing our leaders... Own up to it. It's obvious to the rest of us.

tclark36
tclark36

"Please make the case for Why we should allow people to vote weeks ahead before all debate is heard?"

There are jurisdictions in this country that had lines where people waited in for 6+ hours. Avoiding lines and allowing everyone the opportunity to vote and not miss work to do so is a valid reason for offering early voting and extending hours.

Tricolor Dog
Tricolor Dog

Try and understand that what MOTR does here is his work - he's being paid, it's quite obvious.

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

It's not obvious to me. If he were a pro instead of an amateur, he'd be using better English and making better arguments. I mean, if you were a right-wing puppetmaster, would YOU pay him for the kind of stuff he posts here in ostensible furtherance of your agenda? He's making more enemies than friends for his cause.

bookman21
bookman21

Lighten up on his spelling and grammar he went to a charter school.

witness2012
witness2012

Agreed. Those images from Florida in November 2012, when those people stood in line in the hot sun for hours trying to vote in-person, absentee, because it was a very limited time frame, despite the long lines of people trying to use it.

Is that what we're aiming for in Wisconsin?

TheBorg
TheBorg

Just another attempt at keeping people from voting. How anyone can claim to be a Republican and not feel ashamed is beyond me.

please explain who would be prevented from voting?

blockhead
blockhead

People in larger cities who use the current absentee system...is that clear enough for you?

Who could possibly be Kept from voting by this? They still have in person absentee voting available for 3 full weeks before every election. that is plenty.

human
human

Q:
"Who could possibly be Kept from voting by this?"

A:
People with jobs. What does MOTR have against people who work for a living?

Tricolor Dog
Tricolor Dog

Speaking of fairness, when is that new fracking site or mine opening in Waukesha or Wauwatosa?

factcheck
factcheck

In the words of the Tin Man who did not have a brain:

"ALEC has spoken ! Now go away and bring me back the public's voice so that I may kill once and for all ! "

http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

digger
digger

Lawmaker, Republican, Rock Star Scottie, LAWMAKER doesn't belong!

Josam
Josam

Here is their next proposal: Names of Democratic candidates shall be printed on election ballots in invisible ink.

Nav
Nav

What more proof do Wisconsinites need to know what the Republican party is up to.?

The Republicans KNOW that the people hate their policies. Rather than worry about that, they are busy cooking schemes that will keep them in power indefinitely. This includes tinkering with election laws so as to give themselves a big advantage over their political opponents. Respect for the constitution and democracy is the LAST thing on their minds. Staying in power is all that matters to them.

Sooner or later, the people need to put an end to their games.

What the people of Wisconsin KNOW is they hated the policies of the left, and we voted them out. Please check the results of the recall election to see who recieved MORE votes before you make such an obviously incorrect statement. Who has a mojority in both chamber? Who? What was that. I couldn't hear you? chirp

what justice
what justice

I am sure that you know that the Rs cooked the voting district maps so perfectly that they continue to hold majorities in both houses of the legislature despite having received FEWER OVERALL VOTES for the positions available.

How about the concept 'one man, one vote' that we as a nation proclaim around the world? Not a good enough idea for Republicans...

TexasBadger
TexasBadger

Perhaps they should pass a law that only Republicans can vote.

davea
davea

Don't give them any ideas!!!! It's clear so far, they can't think for themselves!

gibbyplayer
gibbyplayer

@nighthawk
The poster said "VOTER fraud." The validation process caught the deceit. Who needs this bill? Has any municipality asked for the provisions of this bill?

Shake
Shake

You will note that your one instance does not even involve anyone VOTING fraudulently.

Beingbucky
Beingbucky

To the Republicans' credit, at least this is not stupid legislation. It is just monumentally mean spirited and quite the opposite of fair. Another example of the dreaded Newspeak, where words mean the opposite of what they used to mean, just as Orwell predicted.

Shake
Shake

Paul Weyrich, founder of ALEC:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GBAsFwPglw

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

So, by Rep. Stroebel's "reasoning", if you've got a smart kid who's breezing thru school and a slow learner who's struggling and needs additional help, the "solution" is to make the smart one stop reading so many books.

witness2012
witness2012

Well, his name IS Duey. That kind of says it all right there.

midwestguy
midwestguy

These are the same people who were able to call the recall election many hours before people had a chance to cast their vote. This bill is another attempt to "skew the game board".

Phootzoo
Phootzoo

Now let's see......to make all things fair to smaller communities, I guess now we will make property taxes equal and fair, home values all the same, schools of equal enrollments, regardless of where we live. DMV's in all communities. What happened to local control? Oh yeah, ALEC and the Koch's want it, so our Walkers and wannabes just get walking orders and they obey! Sad to see what we've become. Fair? What is fair today?

bluffsinview
bluffsinview

First they spend a half milion to gerrymand districts and retain their seats. Then they try for voter ID when there is NO evidence of any voter fraud, but it would hinder poor people and college students from voting. Now they want to limit hours to further disuade those who are apt to vote for Democrats. If you've ever wondered how goverments become corrupt and totally ignore the majority of its citizens to further their own causes, look no further than Walker's administration and his paid minions. The rent-to-own lobby gave them money, the mining company gave them over a million, the loan sharks gave them money, the for-profit school advocates gave them money..and Cathy Stepp gave Walker money, and that's how she got to be head of the DNR with NO experience or education in natural resources. WI is being sold to the highest bidders. There will be mines wherever they may be profitable..including the Baraboo hills. When will people open their eyes? When there's a mine in their back yard, when their wells go dry (sorry, can't sue the DNR or the companies, it's in the bill)...this is the most corrupt administration WI or any other state has ever seen. Shame on them.

nighthawk
nighthawk

How sure are you about "NO" evidence of fraud?

http://wislawjournal.com/2013/03/04/racine-man-pleads-guilty-to-election-fraud/

witness2012
witness2012

nighthawk, the guy in Racine forged some names on recall petitions.

What does that have to do with voting and how can ending absentee voting options prevent that kind of fraud?

It is called Election Day for a reason. If these clerks only had to control the process for a day it would be much easier, but now we have opened it up to weeks. It causes a lot of extra work, time, and $$ and the election workers are responsible for the integrity of every ballot for far too long. It's exposure. Yes we need to have absentee voting available and accessible for those who absolutely cannot make it on election day, but enough is enough. Now we just have piles of people who just want to vote when it's more convenient for them, or so they don't forget, or in case something else comes up. This is Never what absetee voting was intended for. We should simply not allow anyone to vote early unless they have a valid reason for doing so.

pikerover
pikerover

The last Presidential Administration spent 7Mill looking for voter fraud. When told by Judges appointed to look into fraud that Money could be better spent because there was so little.... the Judges were fired.

bookman21
bookman21

The only voter fraud that I heard about was Robin Vos' ex-wife.

specasa
specasa

UNAMERICAN!

Shake
Shake

But very Republican.

BS. Vote on election day. It's very american. Are we to beleive that we are somehow disenfranchising people just because they wanted to vote on a different day to skip the long lines? Most of the people in the absentee lines were only there for convenience. Not because they couldn't come on election day.

JakeWeery
JakeWeery

I'd wager a sizable portion of my sizable income that if this was a Democratic-sponsored bill aimed at curtailing voting in rural, more conservative (e.g. Republican) districts, you'd be howling with outrage.

But since it's clearly aimed at curtailing the urban vote (i.e. Democratic), you're going out of your way to spin it as a common sense, patriotic move.

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

@JakeWeery;

"I'd wager a sizable portion of my sizable income..." Spoken like a true champion of the proletariat.

Why not put some real skin in the game; wager a sizable portion of your sizable ego!

The Gotch

N, I've been an advocate for tighter voting laws fr years, and said so on these pages Several times. I beleive voting is a precious right and the integrity of every single vote is important. I believe all people should have an ID and they sould show it to vote. I beleive we should all vote on Election day unless absolutely not possible. If you are overseas in the military or can prove you will be traveling, etc. If you are an invalid or unable to travel to the polls we can mail it to you. I've never been in favor of the extended hours so people could just do it when it's more convenient. I Would be in faovr of allowing online voting if it could be secure. I'm all for making it easier and more accessible. Just not for making our clerks work more hrs while leaving the voitig process more open for fraud over several weeks.

JakeWeery
JakeWeery

Once again, "The Gotch" uses his sizable talents in the art of verbal thrust and parry to say absolutely nothing.

witness2012
witness2012

MOR, there are people who are ill and can't wait in line for hours. There are people with infants and no childcare who have to vote quickly, too.

Don't we want those people to be able to vote? Why add extra hurdles to the right to participate in politics?

Beingbucky
Beingbucky

Well, who doesn't want fairness? So, to be fair we will have to provide free parking outside the Madison county clerk's office, because many places have free parking for in person voters. And, we will have to make sure all these places have a Starbucks nearby, like Madison has, because otherwise the experience just isn't the same. Or, we could just make it a principle that encouraging people to vote is a good thing and discouraging qualified voters is a bad thing-- a very, very bad thing akin to treason.

witness2012
witness2012

What are you talking about?

This is about access to voting. I have no idea what the rest of what you are trying to say means.

witness2012
witness2012

Oh, and btw, there is not a Starbucks anywhere near the city-county building in Madison.

witness2012
witness2012

This is a bill that deserves to die in committee. Don't these legislators ever do any research about costs & unintended consequences before proposing ideas?

If he concerned about equity between small communities and large cities, why not move in the direction of getting more funding to local communities to expand the hours they can stay open? It sounds like it's cheaper to do the in-person absentee ballots than the mail-in, anyway.

typical Dem.....more funding, more funding. We don't have or need more funding. Go vote on election day when we already have the polling places staffed.

tclark36
tclark36

Again... read the article. Voting in person costs the jurisdiction less than mailing the ballot.

Whazzat
Whazzat

I'm taking a break from the winter and spending a few weeks in Florida. Reading the Naples newspaper I see that the Florida legislature is in session for 60 days while the morons back home in Wisconsin make legislating a full time job. If our legislature operated for 60 days perhaps we wouldn't be seeing this type of asinine legislation.

irisK
irisK

Revenge against, all the mean nasty, Madison and Milwaukee citizens who signed the recall petition, and hurt Scott Walker's feelings.

smithy
smithy

If he's so concerned about fairness, how about he propose giving inner city Milwaukee the same per capita number and quality voting machines as he has in his little republican enclave up there in Ozaukee county?

We don't Give voting machines to anyone. Pay your local taxes and buy your own.

davea
davea

Do you even THINK before you type?

The poster said we should give voting machines to inner city Milw. Local governements but these machines. No one gives them. They can have whatever voting machines they want. just put it in their budget. Apparently Dems think we have a limitless credit card anyway.

Cynical
Cynical

These are the same people that wrap themselves in the flag and try to give the impression that they are the only ones who live by the Constitution. Our democracy is always at risk when the Republicans are in power.

Delilah_Jones
Delilah_Jones

So basically this brainiac wants to make it harder for people in big cities to vote thereby leveling the playing field for people in smaller cities. And we pay this guy's wages?? Send your paycheck back now!

What is so hard about going to vote?

davea
davea

It's not now, but why are the republicans trying to change this, and MAKE IT HARDER?

I'm sure we could make it easier and easier by having a polling place on every block open 24/7 but we have to find a happy medium. In this case just like in EVERYthing the government pays for we have to find areas that we can reduce some spending. We cannot just keep expanding every program when we already have huge budget deficits. You scream for more $$ for schools, more money for HC, etc, so where do you suppose it will come from?

They are trying to control the costs and keep the process manageable. Asking the clerks to manage the voting process for several weeks and ensure that every single ballot has integrity, validity, is very hard. The more we expand the process the harder it is to control. If anybody can't make it there they will mail you a ballot and that has Always been the case . How hard is that

tclark36
tclark36

"You scream for more $$ for schools, more money for HC, etc, so where do you suppose it will come from?"

If you took the time to read the article you would know that it costs more to mail the ballot than it does to keep the ofice open for in-person voting.

Delilah_Jones
Delilah_Jones

I'll give you an example, MOR.

My roommate leaves to teach a class at about 5:45am. She then goes to work and works until 4:00, then she goes to her 2nd job and works until 9pm. When is she supposed to find time to vote, and neither jobs are near her polling place. Her first job is 1 block from the City COunty building. Yea, she's SUPPOSED to get time off to vote, but get real, ain't gonna happen with her job. Why stand in line for an hour or two if she didn't have to work when she can stand in line for 10 minutes? It's a quality of life thing.

Now you tell me what is so awful about giving people more options and time to vote? Our leaders shout and holler about giving other countries the right to vote, hold it so so so freakin' dear to them, then turn around and continually try to make it harder and harder for us here in this country to vote. Hypocrites!

If Madison wants to spend money to have long hours for absentee voting and be open on Saturdays, why is this in any way a problem for Duey? If you live in a conservative area, and want to save on taxes by not having it, that's your perogative. But don't force anyone else to follow your cheap ways. From the article, it doesn't sound like anyone but Duey wants this. Back to the drawing board, pal.


witness2012
witness2012

Good point, Delilah. Why does this Republican legislator oppose local control?

Rosalie
Rosalie

They're still at it

Mike_Smith
Mike_Smith

what's the deal with you republicans? You should be making it easier for people, but no, not you folks. Why don't you just pass a law that Democrats can't vote and be done with it? That is your goal after all.

We don't need to make voting easier or harder. It's not our job to deliver the ballot to you on a silver tray. Go to the polling place on election day and vote all you want. If you are unable we have absentee voting available. enough is enough. Why do the Dems keep pushing this idea that voting is somehow so much harder for them to do than for Republicans?

davea
davea

Why then are the republicans again trying to MAKE IT HARDER TO VOTE?

sarge
sarge

if youre rich it's much easier to leave work early to vote and of course if your not rich your life and schedule is more hectic and subject to unexpected schedul e changes...thus if you make it hardest for them to vote absentee in close races, republicans will win more often even though frankly...they are a minority

Please explain how this make is harder? Because they have to go to a different place, or go on election day? Polling places do change from year to year sometimes. Have you ever volunteered at the polls? Exit polling clearly showed that a very high percentage of in person absentee voters just did it to avoid lines on election day or so they wouldn't forget or get too busy that day. It was pure convenience. I'm not required to make it more convenient for each and every person's schedule. Just sothat it is fairly accessible and available. I'd even be in favor of a national holiday so all could vote.

How can 7:30 - 5, Mon-Fri for 3 full weeks prior not be enough for anyone who wants to vote? Isn't this already a huge expansion over going on Election Day ?
If you cannot make it there during these times they will mail a ballot to you.

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