Republicans fast-track election bills likely doomed for Evers' veto pen

NOW: Republicans fast-track election bills likely doomed for Evers’ veto pen

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- This week, Republican lawmakers are fast-tracking numerous election-related bills that Democrats call a blatant attempt to make it more difficult to vote.

The proposals come as lawmakers are beginning to wrap up their work for the year as they near an end to the legislative session.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the state Senate plans to vote on more than a dozen bills which are likely doomed for Governor Tony Evers' veto pen after stating he would reject proposals that create barriers to the ballot box. The Assembly is also expected to take up the measures later this week.

The strategy for Republicans is pass the proposals anyway and then try and put the blame on Evers, who faces reelection, for not supporting their election integrity plan.

Evers has centered his reelection bid on defending democracy and has vowed to veto GOP election bills. Some include giving the Legislature control over guidance issued to local clerks instead of Wisconsin Elections Commission, only allowing the voter themselves to return their absentee ballot, and banning clerks from filling in missing information on ballot envelopes.

Over the last month, Republican lawmakers have drafted several proposals they said will address issues raised during the 2020 election.

One includes amending the state constitution to ban government officials from accepting private grants to fund elections. During the 2020 election, the state's five largest cities were distributed more than $10 million in election grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Republicans have long expressed opposition to the funds because they believe it increased voter turnout in largely Democratic strongholds.

Evers cannot veto constitutional amendments. They do need to pass two consecutive sessions before the issue is taken up by voters.

"Ensuring that each voter casts a proper ballot is central to the integrity of any election," said State Rep. Patrick Snyder (R-Schofield) when testifying on his bill to require every voter to show proof of a photo ID.

The bills come before the final recommendations are made by Michael Gableman, the Republican-hired attorney leading an investigation into the 2020 election. Gableman recently threatened to jail more officials if they don't sit down for interviews behind closed doors, which could suggest his probe will last much longer than anticipated.

Last week, Gableman told a Dane County judge he wants to throw the Democratic chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Ann Jacobs, and Racine's mayor, Cory Mason, in jail if they don't cooperate with his probe.

Attorney General Josh Kaul is challenging Gableman's demands and his board subpoenas, arguing officials are willing to meet in public, such as in front of the Assembly elections committee, but not in private.

"Gableman has requested interviews and depositions, but in a way that is not permitted by law," Kaul said during an appearance on CNN. "The law says he is supposed to do that in a public setting in front of a legislative committee."

It's unclear if any of these election bills had input from Gableman, whose probe is being funded by taxpayers. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who hired Gableman, blames legal challenges as the reason why the investigation is taking longer than planned.

Vos said he believes Gableman is still on track to produce a final report by the end of the month.

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