President Obama may have won Wisconsin with relative ease last year, but when it comes to state government, the Badger State looks pretty “red”: Republican Gov. Scott Walker is currently working with Republican majorities in the state Assembly and state Senate.
And like most states where GOP officials control the levers of in-state power, voting restrictions appear to be a top goal in Wisconsin. This started in earnest back in March, as my colleague Laura Conaway reported at the time, and the efforts intensified yesterday.
Voters in Wisconsin would have less time to cast early ballots under a proposed bill that passed the Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday, the latest move in a nationwide string of Republican-led efforts to tighten voting rules.
The measure would require county clerks to limit early voting to 40 hours per week, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It would end weekend early voting hours, which Democrats have used to turn out the vote in heavily urban areas such as Milwaukee and Madison.
Remember, while Republicans generally rely on the ridiculous “voter fraud” canard to rationalize voter suppression, the argument has no use in cases like these – the only reason to shrink the amount of time voters have to cast a ballot is if you want fewer votes cast.
Of the 54 Republicans in the Assembly, 53 voted for the measure, which was more than enough to pass the bill and send it to the state Senate.
As if that weren’t quite enough, Republican state lawmakers also pushed a voter-ID measure, backed a proposal to make it tougher to launch recall elections, and supported license plates intended to oppose reproductive rights. In a strange twist, there was even a fight over a resolution to honor victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Tensions flared after Democrats attempted to take up a bill honoring the children killed last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Republicans rejected taking that up and then advanced the bill on anti-abortion license plates, even though they had said earlier they wouldn’t take it up.
Keep in mind that Republicans in the state Senate had no problem with the bill honoring the Newtown victims, and voted for it unanimously. But in the state Assembly, nearly all Republicans opposed the symbolic resolution, as hard as that may be to believe.
Expect Rachel to have more on the bizarre developments in Wisconsin on tonight’s show.