Wisconsin Early Voting Scaled Back Again

Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker has signed into law a bill that eliminates weekend early voting in Wisconsin and limits weekday early voting hours to 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Walker vetoed a part of the bill that limited total early voting hours to 45 per week. This bill follows another, signed in 2011, that cut early voting from three weeks and three weekends to two weeks and one weekend.

Early voting works by allowing voters to cast absentee ballots in person ahead of Election Day. More than one in five Wisconsin voters used absentee ballots in the 2012 General Election, with 250,000 using early voting. Polling shows support for some form of early voting by 80% of Wisconsinites.

The bill's sponsors cited concern that early voting was not equally available for all Wisconsinites, saying that the measure will ensure uniformity and fairness. Critics call the bill an attempt to limit a type of voting favored by Democrats, pointing out that "those who voted early voted for Obama 58 to 41 percent in Wisconsin in 2012, compared to his 51 to 48 percent margin on Election Day." Supporters and detractors weren't purely split along party lines, however. At least one Republican lawmaker, Senator Dale Schultz, opposed the bill.