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Election-reform bill on fast track

MADISON (WRN)   Wisconsin omnibus election reform bill moving ahead, but needs a little more time for consideration.

Republicans in the legislature are pushing a bill seeking multiple changes to Wisconsin’s election laws, including voter photo ID requirements. At an Assembly committee hearing this week Representative JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) asks the Assembly speaker, “What’s the hurry?”

The measure had been scheduled for a vote on Thursday, two days after its first public hearing. Zamarripa pleads, “Can we slow this down? Can we not exec on Thursday? … if you’re sincere about taking bipartisan input.”

Dozens of people attend the hearing Tuesday on Jeff Stone’s (R-Greendale) election reform legislation. Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin testifies against it. “Well there’s not time to analyze or clearly to address all of the anti-voter aspects of AB 225; we wonder what Wisconsin voters could possibly have done to deserve such a restrictive law.”The bill allows voters who are too poor to pay for a photo identification card to sign an affidavit and take an oath stating the accuracy of that statement. Representative Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) says that’s an “extremely humiliating requirement.”

“It strikes me as creating multiple classes of voters,” Kessler directs his concern to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington), “Does that not trouble you, also?”

Vos says he’d like to have the package approved by the end of the Legislature’s current floor period on June 30th, providing ample time to train poll workers on the new changes before the next election. Kessler argues, considering the earliest election is the February primary, the package could be taken up in the fall session, allowing more time for it to be examined and debated.

Ardis Cerny of Brookfield supports the measure. “First of all I’d like to respond to some of the comments that were made earlier about ‘What’s the hurry? What’s the hurry? … This bill’s going way too fast.’ Well, I’ve been waiting for 4 1/2 years for election reform. So I say bring it on. It’s about time.”

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections heard public testimony on Tuesday at the Capitol. A vote was going to take place today (Thursday), but Committee Chair Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) is saying panel members need more time to review the details, get clarification, and address the many concerns of the Government Accountability Board. However, waiting until the next session is not an option. Plenty of time is needed to implement the changes and train poll workers on the procedures.