POLITICS

Wisconsin State Senate Pushes Voting Law Overhaul

MADISON, WI - MARCH 04:  Republican Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman waves as he walks through the Wisconsin State Capi
MADISON, WI - MARCH 04: Republican Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman waves as he walks through the Wisconsin State Capitol on March 4, 2011 in Madison,Wisconsin. Some demonstrators have returned to the capitol building hours after they were forced to vacate the building after occupying it for more than two weeks to protest Governor Scott Walker's attempt to push through a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for most government workers in the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Republicans are gearing up to overhaul voting legislation with the introduction of three new bills, MSNBC reported Thursday.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) is leading the push, introducing a bill that loosens donation disclosure rules, and two others that will make early voting more challenging.

The first of the two early voting restrictions will introduce new limits to voting procedures in the state, which ranked second nationally for voter turnout last year. Voters will only be allowed to cast early voting ballots during regular business hours. The legislation will also set a maximum number of hours local election officials can serve and eliminate weekends from the current schedule.

Another measure will hit older voters living in residential facilities. Their aides will be required to post a notice online, 72 hours in advance, before assisting with voting. And the financial contribution bill will only require donors to document contributions of $500 or more, while the current minimum donation requiring documentation stands at $100. Grothman proposed a similar contribution measure last year.

Grothman has defended the measure as a way to protect against union boycotts of businesses who have many employees contributing to the same political campaigns.

"While I can’t speak for all elected officials in this building, the vast majority of the people who contribute to me do so for my general political beliefs, not for issues specific to their employer," Grothman wrote in a memo.

The overhaul attempt follows a bill passed by the state assembly earlier this summer, which loosened campaign contribution limits and created an online system for voter registration. The original draft of the Republican-backed bill also included voter ID requirements, which were stripped from the measure before its passage.

The proposals have angered some organizations in the state.

“This is part of a larger and continuing effort on the part of Republicans to restrict voting by the people they don’t want to cast a ballot,” Mike Browne, deputy director of watchdog group One Wisconsin Now, said.

Lisa Subeck, executive director of United Wisconsin, said the legislation is an attack on democracy in the state.

“Republicans suffered significant losses in Wisconsin’s statewide elections in November 2012, so they are now attempting to stack the deck for 2014 by making voting more difficult for those who may not agree with their radical policies," she said.

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