Wisconsin Assembly turns focus to election reforms

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(The Center Square) – Few of the election reforms Wisconsin Republicans plan to pass will likely get the governor’s signature.

The State Assembly late Thursday approved nearly a dozen or so pieces of legislation that deal with how people vote and how elections are run in the state.

“There’s no way that Wisconsin should experience what it did in 2020 in 2024,” Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said.

Krug, who is the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections said the Republican election reforms either look to close loopholes exposed during the 2020 election or prevent new loopholes from being exploited.

“It’s been a great effort on everybody’s part to try to make sure that election administration is changed permanently in the state of Wisconsin,” Krug said.

Krug said that includes Democratic support for a few ideas, including a plan that would send voters a text message when they request and return their absentee ballots and the plan to allow local election clerks to count absentee ballots on the Monday before election day.

“Why do we wait until Tuesday night to process absentee ballots,” Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, asked. “Our clerks can process those ballots just as well on Monday, and our observers can observe those ballots being processed better during daylight hours during normal business hours than in the middle of the night on Tuesday night.”

Tusler’s plan would have central count locations, like in Milwaukee, start the process of counting absentee ballots ahead of time. Milwaukee’s election clerk has said in the past they could have all of their absentee ballots counted on the Monday before election day.

“When we go to bed on election night, we should have a solid, unofficial result of the results of the election,” Tusler said.

A spokesman for Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday said the governor will sign Tusler’s early vote count legislation.

The Assembly also passed three proposed constitutional amendments that cleared the Senate earlier this week.

They deal with voter ID, who can vote in Wisconsin elections and a ban on the use of private outside money.

Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, said Republicans are pushing those amendments to voters as a way to “avoid Gov. Evers’ veto pen.”

The voter eligibility and private money amendments will go to voters next fall.

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