360: The Republicans fight for 'Election Integrity' vs. the Democrats fight to secure 'Voters' Rights'

Does mail-in voting favor one party over another?
Posted at 6:05 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 07:57:31-04

MILWAUKEE — In the wake of former President Donald Trump's narrow loss in Wisconsin to President Joe Biden, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing more than a dozen election bills that they say will ensure a more secure voting process.

But, Democrats worry some of the bills could end up restricting access to the polls.

The bills are on the governor's desk, just one week after Democrats on Capitol Hill failed to secure enough votes to open up debate on a bill that they argue would have "expanded access to the polls" and prevent efforts to make it harder to vote.

In response to that bill, called the 'For the People Act,' Republicans say Democrats are just trying to make it easier to cheat in elections.

To dive deeper into different perspectives, TMJ4 News is going 360 on recent legislation that has been sent to Governor Tony Evers's desk.

360: The fight for 'Election Integrity' and 'Voters' Rights'

We hear from Republicans like Senator Ron Johnson and State Representative Adam Neylon, about why they say recent federal attempts to create a federal standard surrounding national elections were not supported by Republicans, as states like Wisconsin works to pass "election integrity bills."

We also hear from the former Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, who is now the co-chair of the American Bridge 21st Century Foundation. He shares why the recent federal bill was about making polls more accessible and he the Republicans who filibustered the bill, like Senator Johnson, let Wisconsinites down.

But first, we start with Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) who shares her perspective.

"We're seeing all of this activity at the state level intended to make it harder for people to access the ballot box," said Baldwin when asked about why she supported the now-failed "For the People" Act.

Senator Baldwin argues that the Republican-backed bills would make it harder for people to vote. She says her Democratic colleagues are working to expand access to the polls.

Right now, there are more than a dozen bills focusing on elections that are awaiting action from Governor Evers.

Senate Bill 179 would change the rules for voters in nursing homes, no longer allowing staff to assist residents in the voting process. Senate Bill 201 would prohibit any individual from helping more than one non-family member in returning an absentee ballot. And, Senate Bill 203 would no longer allow voters who are indefinitely confided or overseas to receive absentee ballots automatically.


Then, there's the federal legislation, like the "For The People Act."

"In many ways, this bill would help create national standards for the conduct of national elections that would prevent these types of efforts that are focused on making it more difficult for people to vote," said Baldwin.

The bill, which Republicans filibustered last week, would have created automatic voter registration and would have expanded access to early and absentee voting. It would've also changed campaign finance laws.

In a statement to TMJ4 News, Senator Ron Johnson called the bill a "monstrosity," saying in part: "Republicans want to restore confidence in our elections by making it easy to vote but hard to cheat. It seems like Democrats primarily want to make it easier to cheat. Why else would they propose eliminating voter ID laws, require ballot harvesting and drop-boxes, make the FEC a partisan agency, and make it harder to maintain accurate voter files?"

JENKINS 360 Election Bills Johnson Quote FS.png

Meanwhile, Republican State Representative Adam Neylon says the state-level legislation - some of which he co-sponsors - would not make it harder to access the polls. He agrees with Johnson that Republicans are trying to make it harder to cheat.

"Whether or not you believe there was a massive level of fraud this past election, we really have seen ways that our election process could be venerable to something like that so we think the best way to address that so, we think that the best way to address that is by making sure that we make it more difficult to cheat and we also restore that trust in the election process," said Neylon.

It is important to note that there have been no confirmed cases of widespread voter fraud reported in Wisconsin following this most recent presidential election.

Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts and current Co-Chair of The American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, disagrees with Johnson and Neylon. He says the Republicans lack of support in the federal legislation, and support of the state-level legislation is "disappointing" but "not surprising."

"Every single Republican senator bound together not to vote against the provisions of the ‘For the People Act’, which was about making it easier to vote, but to vote against the idea of even debating the question of how to make voting more transparent, more reliable and to engage more people and that is a fundamentally undemocratic vote," said Patrick.

It has been reported that Governor Evers is set to veto the Republican-backed Election Integrity bills. Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill are vowing to double-down on efforts to pass voters right legislation in the weeks ahead.

Read the bills below:
Wisconsin 2021 SB203 Introduced by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd

2021 WI SB 198 by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd

2021 SB 179 by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd

WI SB 201 by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd

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