Republican state lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills aimed at changing Wisconsin’s election process last Friday.
Some of the new legislation proposes limiting ballot drop boxes to election clerk offices and prohibiting election officials from filling out missing information on certification envelopes containing absentee ballots, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The bills come after former Republican President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election in which he repeatedly claimed the results of the election were fraudulent. Republican lawmakers said distrust in the election results influenced the proposal of such legislation.
Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, introduced 10 bills Wednesday, with Stroebel adding an additional six bills Tuesday.
“We want to increase transparency in the counting and reporting of absentee ballots on Election Day,” Stroebel said in a Tweet.
According to Wisconsin Radio Network, bills proposed by Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Wis., and Sen. Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, would move Wisconsin’s primary election date to Super Tuesday — which occurs the first week of March along with 16 other states — rather than the state’s current primary date in April with other local elections.
Republicans considered a similar bill in December 2018 during former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s lame-duck period, but decided against it, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck said he believed legislation was founded in baseless claims that the election was stolen from Trump.
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University of Wisconsin Political Science professor Benjamin Marquez said such legislation could have negative effects on voters of color and poor voters. He also said he feels Republican lawmakers are engaging in such efforts in an attempt to change fair rules.
“There’s a political and demographic shift going on across the country, and they don’t like what they see, so they want to rewrite the rules,” Marquez said. “If you know that if you’re losing by the rules of the game, you will change those rules. One way to do it is just to make it more difficult to vote, which is something that has a disproportionate impact on people of color and low income people.”
Republican Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement to the Wisconsin Radio Network that while he did not discuss the bills with other legislators, he understands why lawmakers are pushing to pass such legislation.
Vos said the legislation’s intent is to ensure voting is completed lawfully — a goal he said should bridge ideological differences.
“The idea that we want to go look and say, ‘how do we make sure that every possible person who wants to vote in this state does it lawfully’ should be something that has broad, bipartisan unanimous support,” Vos said. “But that’s the challenge that we have. Some people seem to think that their side benefits from fraudulent and unlawful voting.”