Liberals All Wrong on Early Voting Law
Actually Republicans have expanded early voting.
Gov. Walker signed three bills into law on Friday that were passed during the extraordinary session, and on Monday, a liberal group requested that a Madison federal court judge overturn the new law that they claim “limits” early voting in violation of the judge’s previous order relating to a different law. The motion they filed is without merit.
Those who challenged the previous statute claimed that it is unlawful because it limited both the days of the week and the hours of voting in a way that allegedly hurt urban voters. Those same groups now claim that the new law is the same as the previous law, but it is not.
While we at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) disagree that the previous statute was unlawful, if those original limitations were legal problems, then the expansion of early voting that the legislature passed in December, fixes those problems by allowing municipalities to determine any hours of the day they wish to be open for voting and allows for voting on Saturdays and Sundays.
Moreover, the recent challenge to the new law raises a new set of problems. Rather than challenge the new law on its own merits, the liberal groups are asking the judge in Madison to determine that his rulings back in 2016 on the previous statute somehow apply to the new statute.
Second, the new law expands the days and hours for early voting which the plaintiffs almost completely ignore. Determining whether the new law is valid will require a new trial based on the provisions of the new law and should not be based on the evidence developed in the previous case which dealt with a different law.
Third, the 2016 decision of the Madison federal judge being asked to rule on this is still on appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Until that appeal is finished, taking the issue to the same judge whose decision is on appeal unduly complicates the matter.
How is it that these liberal groups think they can get away with this? Perhaps it has to do with the media’s misreporting on the changes made to early voting during the extraordinary session. As mentioned above, the legislature did not tighten early voting guidelines in an effort to hurt voter turnout. In fact, they did just the opposite and amended the previous statute to provide more days and hours of early voting.
National papers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today were not the only ones to miss this. Local papers missed it as well with an article from the Racine Times Dec. 12 stating that “Based on the openly partisan nature of so much of the legislation in the lame-duck session, we feel it can be safely concluded that the Republicans’ decision to limit early voting is based on the presumption that early voting benefits Democrats.”
Whether the liberal groups will be successful in bringing this new challenge on these grounds is yet to be determined. But it also will be important for any judge looking at the case to consider whether their first principles are right. According to Charles Franklin, Director of the Marquette Law School poll, the two counties with the highest percentage of voters who participated in early voting in 2018 were actually Ozaukee and Waukesha counties, two GOP strongholds and not the urban centers of Milwaukee and Madison.
Moreover, Wisconsin is far more generous in regard to early voting than the 12 states, like New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut, which allow no early voting without some sort of excuse. Instead, the new legislation puts Wisconsin somewhere in the middle of what other states do. For the states that have early voting, the number of days on which early voting is allowed range in length from four days to 45 days, with the average length being 19 days. Further, with the most recent changes, Wisconsin will be one of slightly fewer than half of the states that allow early voting on weekends.
It is clear to us that these liberal groups are working on shaky grounds and it is our hope at WILL that the judge takes all of these factors into consideration.
Rick Esenberg is the President and General Counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
More about the Lame Duck Laws
- Fourth Lawsuit Against Lame Duck Laws - Shawn Johnson - Feb 22nd, 2019
- DPW Files Federal Lawsuit Over Republicans’ Lame-Duck Power Grab - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Feb 21st, 2019
- Rep. Spreitzer, Sen. Ringhand Propose Lame Duck Limits - State Rep. Mark Spreitzer - Feb 11th, 2019
- Judge Blocks Lame Duck Voting Restrictions - Laurel White - Jan 18th, 2019
- Rep. Jimmy Anderson Seeks to Void the Wisconsin Power Grab - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Jan 10th, 2019
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Mischief Defamed the State - Spencer Black - Jan 2nd, 2019
- Campaign Cash: Lame Duck Law Helped Ashley Furniture - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: Liberals All Wrong on Early Voting Law - Rick Esenberg - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: We the Irrelevant People - Sheila Plotkin - Dec 19th, 2018
- History Repeats With Latest Post-Election Republican Attack on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 19th, 2018
- Kaul Calls Lame Duck Laws ‘Terrible’ - Mary Kate McCoy - Dec 19th, 2018
- Court Challenge to Voting Restrictions Filed - Laurel White - Dec 18th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: State Facing Endless Lawsuits? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 18th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Institute Files Request for Court to Enforce Rulings Striking Down Republican Lame Duck Restrictions on Voting - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 17th, 2018
- Motion to Block Early Voting Restrictions to be Filed Today - Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Dec 17th, 2018
- Carpenter: Require ‘Lame Duck” Bills to Supermajority Votes - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Dec 17th, 2018
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Bills Too Rushed, Secretive - Erin Grunze - Dec 16th, 2018
- Walker Signs Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 14th, 2018
- Rep. Zamarripa Statement on Lame Duck Bills - State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa - Dec 14th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Institute Announces Coming Legal Action Against GOP ‘Lame Duck’ Voting Rights Attacks - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor Walker just sealed his legacy as the worst Governor in state history - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor Walker Signs Extraordinary Session Legislation into Law in Green Bay - Gov. Scott Walker - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Kimberly-Clark Announcement - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 13th, 2018
- Walker Defends Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 12th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: Republicans’ Plan for Permanent Power - Bruce Murphy - Dec 11th, 2018
- Lame Duck Law Adds Work For State Agencies - Rich Kremer - Dec 11th, 2018
- Lawmakers Change How WEDC Tracks Jobs - Laurel White - Dec 10th, 2018
- Op Ed: Republican Power Grab Unprecedented - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 10th, 2018
- The State of Politics: 5 Reasons for Republican Power Play - Steven Walters - Dec 10th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: WMC Behind New Anti-Regulation Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 7th, 2018
- Wisconsin Budget: One More Tax Cut For The Wealthy - Tamarine Cornelius - Dec 7th, 2018
- City Beat: Episode 002 - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2018
- Lame-Duck Bill Changes Highway Funding - Rich Kremer - Dec 6th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: What Will Scott Walker’s Legacy Be? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 6th, 2018
- Governor Walker: What Will Your Message To Gov.-Elect Evers Be? - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Dec 6th, 2018
- WI & MI GOP Attempt to Undermine the Voice of Voters, Put Democracy and Safety at Risk - Democratic Attorneys General Association - Dec 6th, 2018
- Your Right to Know: Lame Duck Laws All About Secrecy - Dee J. Hall - Dec 5th, 2018
- Data Wonk: The Republican War Against Democracy - Bruce Thompson - Dec 5th, 2018
- Extraordinary Session Update: Legislature Approves Critical Reforms - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Dec 5th, 2018
- Rep. Gwen Moore Statement on Republican Power Grab - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore - Dec 5th, 2018
- Statement on Lame Duck Session - State Rep. Evan Goyke - Dec 5th, 2018
- Legislature Works Overnight To Curb Evers Power - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Dec 5th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Extraordinary Session - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 5th, 2018
- Republican’s Holiday Gift to Wisconsin: An Assault on Democracy - State Sen. Janis Ringhand - Dec 5th, 2018
- Unprecedented Power Grab Will Break Wisconsin for Years to Come - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 5th, 2018
- Senator Taylor Believes GOP Are Taking Career Ending Votes - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Dec 4th, 2018
- Bill Curbing Evers’ Power Moves to Legislature - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Dec 4th, 2018
- Extraordinary Session Policy Items Flying Under the Radar - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Dec 4th, 2018
- Will Republican Legislature Risk Contempt With Scheme to Enact New Limits on Early Voting? - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 4th, 2018
- Representative Lisa Subeck Statement on the Extraordinary Session - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Dec 4th, 2018
- Power Tends to Corrupt, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Dec 4th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers’ Testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance Opposing Extraordinary Session Legislation - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Eight Days After November Election Republican Assembly Leader Robin Vos Requested New Restrictions on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Op Ed: GOP Bills Change 400 Sections of State Law - State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Rep. Brostoff Statement on Republican Effort to Override Will of Wisconsin Voters - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Conservation Voters issue statement on lame duck bills - Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Evers Will Fight Plan to Limit His Power - Corri Hess - Dec 3rd, 2018
- GOP Lame Duck Session Targets Evers - Laurel White - Dec 3rd, 2018
- ACLU of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors condemns lame duck session - American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Stop the Wisconsin GOP power grab - Indivisible Madison - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Election defeat leads to GOP temper tantrum - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Nov 30th, 2018
- Vos Republicans: ‘Too Many People Voted’ - One Wisconsin Now - Nov 30th, 2018