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Wisconsin voting bill could have ramifications for people with disabilities

Posted at 9:09 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 23:34:57-04

The Wisconsin Senate will be considering a bill Tuesday that, if approved, would require people with a disability to only ask a family member or designate an adult to return their ballot during an election.

This can be a difficult task for many with limited social networks or family not within their reach.

This can also be tricky if voters have immediate family in the state. They cannot ask others to help return their ballot.

Lawrence Brown had noticed his ballot didn't reach and did not have any family or friends nearby to take him to the polls. With no other options, Brown decided to wheel directly to the polls on his battery-powered wheelchair.

Lawrence Brown
Lawrence Brown

"But risked that I would run out of wheelchair battery power, wheeling in my power chair to Divine Mercy Parish," said Brown.

He wheeled nearly one mile to simply cast his vote.

"That's how important and prized voting is to me. I will not be denied," said Brown.

Under bill SB 203, events like "Democracy in the Park" can no longer happen.

Severe penalties could be enforced if these are not followed.

State Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), who co-authored the bill, said this in a statement Monday:

"Forty states currently have laws governing who may return another voter's absentee ballot. Wisconsin is an outlier and SB 203 establishes common-sense protections to safeguard the return of absentee ballots. The bill allows family members to return each other's absentee ballots, and allows a voter to designate another adult to return their ballot for them."

"California, for example, doesn't have statutory guidelines governing the return of absentee ballots. Last year California Democrats expressed frustration at so-called 'ballot harvesting' tactics used by local Republicans. It doesn't matter the party involved, voters deserve to know that their absentee ballots will be properly returned and any violation of that trust should be penalized."

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