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Responsive Gov’s Grade TL;DR

Over the past few sessions, members of the Wisconsin State Legislature have repeatedly sought to make election law changes based on allegations of election fraud and baseless conspiracy theories. Last year was no different and the Legislature focused its efforts on removing the state’s nonpartisan Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) administrator based on conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election. Wisconsin received a D on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Wisconsin Started at the Beginning of 2023

  • Automatic Voter Registration: No
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: Yes
  • Restoration of Rights: Parole and/or Probation Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: In-Person Absentee
  • ID Requirements: Strict Photo ID

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Wisconsin as of 2022, we considered the state a bottom tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2023 activity against other bottom tier states.

How Our Tier Compares

  • COVI (2022): 47th
  • EPI Score (2020): 4th
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 5/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): FAIR

2023: This Past Year

Legislative Action

The Legislature concentrated most of its energy on removing the state’s highest election administrator during last year’s session. However, it also made a few additional anti-voter changes.

  • SR 4 is a Senate Resolution that attempts to fire the state’s nonpartisan WEC administrator based on lies about the 2020 election. The resolution is currently the subject of litigation filed by the attorney general.
  • SJR 73 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to present a photo ID to vote. The resolution must be passed again next session and then would then be put to the voters for final approval.
  • SJR 78 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of private funding for election administration. It would also prohibit anyone other than election administrators from performing certain election-related tasks. The resolution must be passed again next session and then would then be put to the voters for final approval.
  • S 433 shortens the timeline for delivering mail ballots to voters during presidential primaries to 21 days before the primary instead of the current 47 days.

Executive Progress

  • For yet another session, Governor Evers vetoed several anti-voter bills that passed the Legislature.
    • S 98 would have required the Wisconsin Election Commission to verify the citizenship status of everyone on the voter rolls.
    • A 494 would have changed the definition of “indefinitely confined” to severely limit which voters may join the permanent absentee voter list. It would also have required the Commission to remove all voters from the list that joined during the beginning of the pandemic.
    • A 396 would have dramatically reduced the fees paid to receive voter registration lists in a way that could “significantly hinder and reduce services provided to Wisconsin clerks and voters,” as Governor Evers noted in his veto message.

Implementation Action

  • The Wisconsin Elections Commission recently revised the design of absentee ballot envelopes to make them more voter-friendly and make them easier for clerks to process.