Local representatives weigh in on WI voting restrictions

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Governor Scott Walker signed into law a package of bills passed in a lame-duck legislative session last week.

Vote Pin, Photo Date: January 19, 2016 / Photo: U.S. Army / (MGN)

One of the provisions is headed back to federal court. It would restrict early voting to just two weeks before an election day.

Local Republicans say this is a fair way to standardize voting, while local Democrats say this is infringing on voters' rights.

“It's quite sad and disturbing to see any kind of attempt to restrict voting,” said Beverly Wickstrom, Chair of Eau Claire County Democratic Party.

Governor Walker and Republicans who voted for it say it's only fair to have early voting during the same time period statewide.

“The law itself Is simply to create a standardizing feature for voting so that all Wisconsinites are voting by the same rules, within the same time period, with the same access to both information and ballots that everyone else gets,” said Brian Westrate of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

A judge rejected a similar argument in 2016, leading to early voting as early as six weeks before the November election.

“I think that anything that makes it more difficult to vote, infringes on voting rights,” said Wickstrom.

Wickstrom also said this new law targets certain demographics, like minorities and blue collar workers.

“We need to do things to encourage rather than discourage people to vote,” said Wickstrom.”

Westrate, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that is the case.

“I’m not quite sure how a law that literally impacts every Wisconsinite in all 72 counties and every municipality can somehow be targeting anyone,” said Westrate.

WEAU also reached out to the Eau Claire City and County Clerks. They said there are too many uncertainties right now to tell what kind of direct impact this might have on voters.