Effort to scale back in-person, early voting in Madison

MADISON (WITI) -- A bill to scale back in-person absentee voting -- commonly called early voting -- passed 17-16 in the Wisconsin Senate Wednesday, March 12th. Now, FOX6 has learned many of the senators have taken advantage of it in the past.

Republican Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend is defending the bill as a way to bring uniformity to the polls.

"Obviously, it's completely unfair to have some cities which receive huge amounts of state aid have voting on weekends when you don't have that in other areas," said Grothman.

According to records from the Government Accountability Board, 15 of the 17 republicans who voted for the bill have cast early ballots in recent elections. Grothman has voted absentee seven times in the last 10 years.

"First of all, that's not many times. And secondly, I vote during office hours during the week, which is exactly what should be going on in Milwaukee," said Grothman.

The Senate's democratic leader, Chris Larson, has called the votes hypocritical.

"Some people can't take off in the middle of the day like Senator Grothman can. Some people have jobs where they have to be at their desk from 9 to 5.  So, it makes sense that we would make some flexibility so people can go right after they finish working or on the weekend," Larson said. "Let's be frank -- the reason they're doing this is because they want to limit the vote in urban areas -- Milwaukee, Madison and other growing cities -- because those areas do not vote for Scott Walker because he's been so horrible on jobs, because he hasn't brought our state forward."

Governor Scott Walker says he will review the early voting bill before deciding whether to sign or veto it.

"I haven't made a decision. I understand the reasons people are pushing it. I also understand some of the concerns. I'll have to give it a thorough review," said Walker.

An identical measure must still pass through the Assembly before reaching the Governor's desk.