Joe Biden calls out WI Republicans for recent changes to early voting

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Vice President of the United States is calling out Wisconsin Republicans. Joe Biden says recent changes to early voting in Wisconsin will end up keeping working Wisconsinites from casting ballots. Biden made the comments in a video released by the Democratic Party.

In the video, released by the Democratic National Committee, Biden criticizes Wisconsin's Republican-controlled Legislature for shortening early voting hours.

"If someone had said to me 10 years ago that I would have to make a pitch for protecting voting rights today I'd say, 'You've got to be kidding,'" Biden said.

In the video, Biden directly denounces Wisconsin for enacting more restrictive voting laws.

"It means hard-working Americans have to take time off from work to be able to vote," Biden said.

Wisconsin Republicans defended the measures as creating uniformity and fair standards across the state.

The early voting law, signed by Gov. Scott Walker, limits in-person absentee voting to no later than 7 p.m. during the week -- and no weekend hours.

"It just seemed to be unfair when you see a line of people ready to vote on a Saturday and yet somebody in rural Wisconsin is unable to go to the town hall that they may vote in," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said.

UWM Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee says Biden is once again showing the importance of Wisconsin in the national conversation.

"Wisconsin is really ground zero of modern American politics. The Vice President is weighing in with the traditional Democratic view and he could have cited other states, but the Wisconsin example always seems to be at the top of the list," Lee said.

The comments came on the same day the Pew Charitable Trusts organization released a comprehensive study on how states handle elections.

The study looked at things like turnout, voter registration rates, and voting waiting time for the 2012 presidential election.

Wisconsin ranked third in the nation -- behind North Dakota and Minnesota.

"Republicans are going for a partisan advantage they feel they have by limiting, in this case, early voting. Democrats are complaining about it because they feel they're losing a partisan advantage, but we've really lost the view of the bigger picture and that's good old democracy. We want people to vote," Lee said.

Biden was also critical of states enacting Voter ID laws. 

Wisconsin passed one in 2011, but it's been tied up in the courts.

Gov. Scott Walker says he could call a special session to modify the law if the Supreme Court decision doesn't come soon.