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Effort to scale back in-person, early voting in Madison

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MADISON (WITI) -- A bill to scale back in-person absentee voting -- commonly called early voting -- passed 17-16 in the Wisconsin Senate Wednesday, March 12th. Now, FOX6 has learned many of the senators have taken advantage of it in the past.

Republican Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend is defending the bill as a way to bring uniformity to the polls.

"Obviously, it's completely unfair to have some cities which receive huge amounts of state aid have voting on weekends when you don't have that in other areas," said Grothman.

According to records from the Government Accountability Board, 15 of the 17 republicans who voted for the bill have cast early ballots in recent elections. Grothman has voted absentee seven times in the last 10 years.

"First of all, that's not many times. And secondly, I vote during office hours during the week, which is exactly what should be going on in Milwaukee," said Grothman.

The Senate's democratic leader, Chris Larson, has called the votes hypocritical.

"Some people can't take off in the middle of the day like Senator Grothman can. Some people have jobs where they have to be at their desk from 9 to 5.  So, it makes sense that we would make some flexibility so people can go right after they finish working or on the weekend," Larson said. "Let's be frank -- the reason they're doing this is because they want to limit the vote in urban areas -- Milwaukee, Madison and other growing cities -- because those areas do not vote for Scott Walker because he's been so horrible on jobs, because he hasn't brought our state forward."

Governor Scott Walker says he will review the early voting bill before deciding whether to sign or veto it.

"I haven't made a decision. I understand the reasons people are pushing it. I also understand some of the concerns. I'll have to give it a thorough review," said Walker.

An identical measure must still pass through the Assembly before reaching the Governor's desk.


  • Sam Smith

    The best way to correct uniformity to the polls is to add more days and hours for voting, not deceasing them. Republicans states across this nation are making it more difficult to vote. shorten hours, less days, less voting machines, less voting precincts. Republicans are targeting those precincts with high level of minorities and those that most likely will vote Democratic. Republicans only chance to win any election is to cheat, commit voter fraud, stop people from voting with huge lines of many hours. Voters the only solution is to defeat Republicans. Toss them to the curbs. Republicans are truly evil and banked by the Koch brothers. Republicans win by big money from the Koch brothers.

  • Jill Brooks

    I am glad that Chris Larson admitted that he is only concerned that the Democrats have an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE and not concerned that the rest of the constituents he ‘claims’ to represent have a FAIR one. If you want to make sure your vote counts, you will get your butt there during the hours listed or you can vote absentee by mail. Take some responsibility Democrats!

    • John Heckenlively

      110 Percent turnout is because there are NEW voters. People register at the polls and vote that same day, so that increases the number of voters. There is nothing sinister about it at all.

  • Rosemarie

    If there are early and extra hours, all people have the same advantage to get and vote whether they be a democrat or a republican. For a country that prides itself on bringing democracy to other nations where they vote with paper and pencil and ink their fingers, I am always stunned by the hypocrisy by which we try to limit voting. I remember when everyone got the day off to vote. How about that? No one should be limiting voting anywhere… We should make it accessible and easy for working people and retired people and young people… ALL people. Why are the republicans so afraid of democracy. And to the respondent who claims cheating … Do some research. Voting fraud is virtually non existent. A red herring.

  • Bette

    We all know what this is about, they could find no voter fraud, so now they have to make it harder for people to vote, the only way they can win is to hope others can’t vote. This is their idea of democracy. We all should be encouraging people to vote and make it as easy as possible, longer voting hours, more places to vote, making lines as short as possible. That would be the American thing to do, but with the KOCH brothers dictating what they want done, the stooges will do whatever they say, bought and paid for. I know there have to be some honest decent Republicans of my day out there who need to speak up and call this what it is, just blatent hypocrisy and downright lying. But then truth isn’t a strong suit with the party nowadays.

  • Doy

    You are uninformed. Get informed. This is a blatant attempt to limit those who vote, correctly, against your agenda.

  • John Brown

    If your second grade second structure wasn’t enough, your reference to representatives (they were actually senators) running off to Illinois demonstrates that you do not have enough of a grasp of this issue to make an informed comment. Speaking of who is currently involved in a sleazy scam to get something to go their way…

  • Bob Nodolf

    The solution to the problem is simple expand the hours in other areas to match those of the city. Do you really believe a village of 800 people needs to have the same time frame for voting that a city of seven hundred thousand does. We should be encouraging more people to vote not less since we usually have forty five per cent turnouts.

  • Alan D.

    This is so transparent. We live in a 50.5%-49.5% world, and if you can keep even 5% of the inner city voting bloc away from the polls, you will win every election. Make sure that, say 20% of inner city folks never get to the polls and, well….Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are trying to fashion similar laws to cook the vote, and Republican party officials in those states have inadvertently admitted as much in front of rolling cameras. It is shameful, it is anti-democracy, and it it anti -American.

  • Kathy

    LIBERALS ARE THE KINGS OF CHEATING?????? Really Jack? Then how come the 2 cases of VOTER fraud in recent history both involved REPUBLICANS?? Vos’ ex wife is a legal resident of ID and voted absentee here in WI. Malszycki was a R aide who voted 2x in Madison and in Wausau. there is your voter fraud you idiot.

  • john doe

    It IS true however that while people in cities get many many changes to vote early—those of us out here in the rural townships cannot. You have to contact the town clerk and make an appointment and ours often does not answer the phone AND has been known to send you away without even a form to absentee vote if you knock on his door and he’s not in the mood. It’s not fair and complaints are on deaf ears. I informed the GAB myself and they simply don’t care….tough luck.

  • john doe

    why is there even a need for IN PERSON early voting. don’t the civil servants have better things to do than run polls for weeks in advance of an election? how do they get all their other WORK done? if you can’t vote on the DAY of the election–then you absentee vote–it’s as simple as that. why are we running polls for weeks and weeks in advance of elections—complicating a simple process and making it more convenient for some who happen to live in cities…

  • Kristi L

    Shortening hours, limiting days will affect many on both sides or all sides. Working in a veterans’ home, we have many who send in absentee ballots. We also have many who rely on rides to their polling places (in rural areas you have many small townships). Employees work anywhere from 8 to 16 hours in a day. People vote Independent, Democrat, and Republican. The level of control the current GOP wants goes beyond any level of democracy. I hear of cheating on all sides, and wonder who is really cheating whom? Eventually, the results may come back to bite in an unexpected way; but it will take that to change this current majority’s attitude and outlook. Further, the level of blame going around is outrageous. No one, including Governor Walker, will take any responsibility or accountability. He has tried to claim some of the job growth – at the beginning of his administration – as what he did; but there was proof that those jobs were already set to start during Doyle’s administration. On the voting, none have considered the service field workers or safety field; and obviously do not intend to. I hope they remember that when they need a police officer, fire department, or hospital care. But it is doubtful. Te current attitude is that the citizens owe them something, that they are not doing a service, rather a favor. They are no more than state employees, either.

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