Despite impassioned pleas to veto, Walker signs early voting bill

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday, March 27th signed off on a bill that would place new restrictions on early voting -- while vetoing a provision within it. There were news conferences held on Thursday -- one in Milwaukee, during which speakers asked Gov. Walker to veto the bill. However, it appears as the presenters were speaking, Gov. Walker had already made his decision.

Voting rights advocates and city leaders, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett gathered at Milwaukee's City Hall on Thursday morning to make a passionate plea to Gov. Walker: Veto Senate Bill 324 -- but it appears it was too little, too late.

Gov. Walker signed off on the bill that limits in-person absentee voting to no later than 7 p.m. during the week and no weekend hours.

Walker vetoed a portion of the bill that limited the hours of early voting to no more than 45 in each of the two weeks prior to an election.

Supporters of the bill say it standardizes early voting rules across the state. Opponents say it impacts people's right to vote.

"There are nearly 600,000 people who live in the city of Milwaukee. We are allowed only one site for people to have early voting -- by state law. That means under this bill, we would have to process people every nine seconds," Mayor Barrett said.

Some at City Hall stood with a sign that said 66% support weekend voting. That's based off of a Marquette Law School Poll released on Wednesday.

The poll showed that 39% of those polled preferred having three weeks for early voting. 27% preferred two weeks -- including one weekend, which is how it is now.

Only 12% favored two weeks for early voting with no weekend voting -- which is what this bill provides.

Gov. Walker's early remarks indicated he could be on the fence on early voting.

"I get what they are trying to get at -- (that) we have uniform voting. On Election Day, you can't vary from one part of the state to the other. I want to make sure it is easy to vote and harder to cheat. That why I've spent my time worrying about voter id and not early voting," Gov. Walker said.

In the end, Walker signed the bill that limits early voting to weekdays, before 7:00 p.m. in the two weeks before Election Day -- and vetoed the portion of the bill that would have limited early voting to 45 hours a week.

"Whether he vetoes this bill or not will show who he really stands with: his party or with the people of Wisconsin," Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said.