MADISON, Wis. — For the second time in less than a year, Wisconsin state lawmakers are voting on a package of GOP-backed election bills. And for the second time, Governor Evers is likely to veto them.
The bills were passed in the Senate early this week and taken up by the Assembly on Thursday. They focus on changes to absentee voting and the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC). The WEC was originally a Republican initiative.
Democrats argue the bills are based on 2020 election conspiracy theories.
Minority Leader Greta Nuebauer (D-Racine) said, "the actions the Republicans are taking today are undemocratic and what's more, they are un-American."
However Republicans maintain the bills are about future elections, not the past.
"They don't re-litigate the 2020 election," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said on the Assembly floor.
Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) said this second push to change voting laws in less than a year shows the importance of these changes to the Republican party.
"We're not questioning, we're not trying to reclaim electoral votes. We're simply trying to make sure that our elections going forward are well run, clean and without issue," Knodl said.
Knodl authored one of the bills aimed at changing language to ensure double checks on citizenship for voters in all elections.
Ultimately, Republican lawmakers say they're focused on secure elections.
"This is to make things fair for all those in the state, that we all get our one person, one vote properly cast," Knodl said.
But Democrats said this last legislative session would've been better spent focused on other issues.
"Good policy like health care expansion, access to medical and recreational marijuana, legalization, investing in infrastructure and public education. Instead the Republicans continue to attack democracy," Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukke) said.
Brostoff, and his Democratic colleagues, said the changes put forward by the Republicans will only lead to further voter suppression.
"What they're focused on is just trying to make it harder for everyday Wisconsinites to vote," Brostoff said.
After Thursday's vote, the bills head to the governor, who is almost certain to veto them like he did the last time GOP election bills were passed.
But the debate over voting laws will likely be used for political fuel as we head in to the 2022 election.