Mar 8, 2014

Sen. Frank Lasee Changes Vote—Wisconsin GOP Attacks Early Voting; Floor Vote on March 11

Sen. Frank Lasee switched his vote;
now backs GOP bill to block voters

Constitutional challenge likely on GOP effort to impede the right to vote for voters living in high-population municipalities. Targeted obstruction of voters remains illegal.

Updated: Sen. Frank Lasee's (R-De Pere) office can be reached at: (608) 266-3512. Lasee claims he is honored to serve his constituents as state senator for Wisconsin senate District One. Give Lasee a call and ask why he wants to make voting more difficult.

Wonder if this attempt to rig election for Republicans is on Scott Walker's "radar." Walker likes to pretend he has no idea what Wisconsin legislative Republicans are doing.

A reader here advises that Lasee's original objection to the bill in committee was based on Lasee's insistence that observers be allowed to be stationed at municipal clerks' offices during early voting hours. GOP observers frequently harass voters and voting officials, a practice that has not gone unnoted by poll workers.
Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) voted 'No' on a bill attacking early voting in the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs earlier this year, defeating the anti-voting measure in committee.

The GOP bill that Lasee voted against would limit early voting in all municipal clerks' offices around the state to only weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Now, Lasee changed his vote in committee late Friday on an amended bill, Senate Bill 324, with no explanation for his constituents for his vote for an amended bill that bans early voting on weeknights and weekends, and limits early voting to 45 hours a week.

The amended bill limits early voting in all municipal clerks' offices around the state to only weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 7 p.m.

We know why Lasee changed his vote of course; to help Republicans keep people from voting in high turn-out, statewide elections that Republicans tend to lose.

Everyone, and I mean everyone expected Lasee to cave to the Republican Party over his constituents, Lasee is up for reelection in 2014 and the first-term senator is a noted GOP flunky.

A February Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial blasting the GOP bill after the committee defeat reads, "This partisan, anti-democratic bill is far from dead, and we wouldn't be surprised if Republicans try to push it forward before the end of the session. ... municipalities have large numbers of voters, and it makes sense for them to make it as easy as possible for citizens to vote. That should be something everyone can support. Early voting reduces congestion at the polls on election day. We favor extending this important democratic franchise to as many people as possible. If longer hours during the election season help to promote voting, that's a good thing."

After Lasee's earlier 'No' vote, the GOP attack on early voting—most people think Lasee mistakenly voted No on the bill in committee at first because Lasee is not the brightest bulb—looked to go down to legislative defeat 17-16.

Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) had announced his opposition to the bill in late February, then Lasee changed his committee vote on the bill, amended and now worse for voters than the original bill.

The amended bill now looks to pass 17-16 with Lasee's cave. The anti-voting companion bill, Assembly Bill 54, passed on a party-line vote last year. So, the state assembly would need to pass the senate's version.

Notes One Wisconsin Now, under the amended bill: "Municipalities would be barred from offering in-person voting after 7pm on weekdays and could not allow voters access to their state constitutional right to vote for more than 45 hours per week in the weeks leading up to election day. In addition, weekend in person voting would be outlawed killing non-partisan 'souls to the polls' drives oftentimes organized by faith-based organizations in minority communities."

Sen. Schultz (R-Richland Center), the lone GOP voice against the GOP attack on voting, blasted the bill, saying: small-town Wisconsin clerks say "prefer the flexibility they now have and are tired of Madison (the legislature and governor's office) trying to control and tell localities how to do their business."

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross made the following statement about this latest Republican plot to restrict access to the franchise by outlawing most after hours, early in-person voting in Wisconsin:

"Senate Republicans have outdone themselves. Not only have they revived legislation voted down in committee just weeks ago, they managed to make it even worse.

"Republicans are sending a clear message to working families, minorities, seniors and students that their participation in our democracy is not wanted.

"Whatever the bill number this is yet another cynical and shameful attempt to take away rights and manipulate the rules on voting from Republicans seeking to gain unfair partisan advantage for themselves.

"This fight won't be over if Gov. Walker signs the bill, it will be over when a judge rules this obscene attempt to restrict access to the franchise for minority, elderly and working class voters unconstitutional."

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