Gov. Evers vetoes 6 election bills supported by Republicans, dispute over election laws continues

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, Aug. 10, vetoed six election bills approved by Republicans which would have implemented new restrictions on absentee voting.

The move comes as Republican lawmakers continue to fight election laws in the battleground state after former President Donald Trump was narrowly defeated by President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

One of the bills vetoed by Evers would have required indefinitely confined voters to show proof of a photo ID if they wanted an absentee ballot. Home-bound voters would also have to fill out an application each election to get an absentee ballot, instead of automatically getting one each election, under another bill.

“These bills add unnecessary and damaging hurdles for Wisconsinites to participate in our democracy,” said Evers.

Many of the bills were also widely opposed by disability groups who say the measures would have made it more difficult to vote.

“People were afraid they wouldn’t be able to vote if these bills passed because they would dramatically increase the barriers, they already experience making it harder, if not impossible to vote,” Jenny Neugart, Disability Vote Coalition.

Republicans argued the bills were necessary to restore confidence in future elections.

“While [Evers] claims these bills are ‘anti-democracy,’ his actions speak louder than words,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement. “He is satisfied with the status quo and refusing to improve future elections.”

Another proposal rejected by Evers would have prohibited election clerks from filling in missing information on ballot envelopes. A fourth bill would have banned ballot collection events to only take place two weeks before an election. These events were held in Madison and Milwaukee in effort to provide more options for voters to drop off their ballots during the pandemic.

Republicans also sent Evers a bill that would have made it a felony for an employee of a long-term care facility to coerce a resident to apply or not apply for an absentee ballot.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said the “commonsense election integrity bills would have made it easy to vote and harder to cheat.”

“Governor Evers is standing in the way of restoring the trust in our process that has been lost,” LeMahieu said in a statement.

Below is a complete breakdown of provisions: 

  • Limiting how a municipality can conduct an event in the community designed to help citizens return absentee ballots;
  • Restricting who can return a ballot on behalf of a voter;
  • Restricting the use of indefinitely confined status when applying for an absentee ballot;
  • Eliminating certain exemptions for voter identification requirements when voting absentee;
  • Making it a felony to incorrectly attest that a person is indefinitely confined;
  • Modifies how voting at qualified nursing homes and residential facilities is conducted, including shortening the window in which special voting deputies and assistants can help residents exercise their right to vote;
  • Requires family members of a resident voter to be notified of when the voting will take place with or without the voter’s input;
  • Creates a new designation of “absentee voting assistant” so that employees of the homes or facilities can provide voting assistance, but makes it a felony for an employee to coerce a resident to take or not take an action in regard to voting;
  • Decreases the distance of election observers from tables to no more than three feet only for recount activities;
  • Prohibiting clerks from helping correct minor errors on returned absentee ballots, such as adding the zip code;
  • Requires clerks to notify a voter of a defect with their ballot online and does not require they use other means to notify a voter, which could result in a voter being unaware their ballot had a defect; and
  • Requires municipalities that live stream or broadcast election night proceedings to retain a copy of the entire broadcast for 22 months.
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