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MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who is up for re-election in November, on Friday vetoed a package of bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature that would have made a series of changes to the battleground state election. laws.
Republicans who have fast-tracked the bills do not have the votes to override his vetoes. The bills are part of a nationwide Republican effort to reshape elections following President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
The bills were swiftly passed earlier this year amid Trump’s insistence the 2020 election was stolen from him and there was widespread fraud, despite no evidence to back up his claims. . Courts, recounts, independent audits and partisan reviews have all confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory by nearly 21,000 votes.
In vetoing all eight bills, Evers told lawmakers that “the right to vote is fundamental to our democracy; it should not be subject to the whims of politicians who do not like the outcome of an election.
Evers said the vetoed bills were “passed on the pretext of having to reform our electoral system because elected officials in this state allowed misinformation about our elections and the electoral process.”
Republican supporters argued that the changes were intended to address shortcomings identified during an audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Office and a review by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. But the vetoed bills went well beyond those recommendations and would have changed the way votes are cast and elections are conducted in Wisconsin.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who pushed back on calls from Trump and some Republican lawmakers to decertify Biden’s victory, said the bills were meant to fix problems for future elections, not to question the past.
Vos, who met with Trump, has ordered a taxpayer-funded investigation into the election that is underway and led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. The investigation has been mired in lawsuits challenging the legality of subpoenas Gableman has filed with the mayors of the largest and most Democratic cities in the state.
The legal battle is expected to continue in July and possibly longer. Gableman’s current contract runs until the end of April. Gableman, on a podcast hosted by former Trump chief of staff Steve Bannon, asked fans to call Vos to pressure him into changing his mind about recovering office equipment from Gableman on April 26.
Vos has raised the possibility of rescinding the subpoenas he signed for Gableman, a move that would effectively end the official investigation.
The bills Evers vetoed would have:
— Prohibits anyone other than the voter, an immediate family member, or a legal guardian from returning a mail-in ballot. That issue is currently pending in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with oral arguments scheduled for next week.
— Prohibition of the expenditure of private funds for the administration of elections. Republicans have cried foul over the more than $8.8 million in grants that Wisconsin’s largest and most Democratic cities received in 2020 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group funded by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Grants have also been given to smaller towns with Republican majorities.
Republicans are trying to circumvent the veto by enshrining the ban in the state constitution. That would require voter approval as early as next year.
— Prohibit poll clerks from filling in any missing information on a voter’s mail-in ballot envelope. Trump had argued that thousands of ballots where clerks filled in missing information on the outer envelope should be ignored, but courts rejected his argument. Wisconsin’s bipartisan Election Commission had advised clerks for years that filling in missing information was OK.
– Require the bipartisan Elections Commission to hire Republican- and Democratic-aligned attorneys to work with commission members and offer what would likely be contrary legal advice. Non-partisan lawyers currently work for the commission.
— Giving the legislature control of the guidelines provided to local election clerks by Wisconsin’s bipartisan Election Commission.
– Limiting who can identify as confined indefinitely, a status that allows mail-in voting for those who cannot go to the polls due to age, illness or disability.
— Require state verification to ensure that registered voters are US citizens.
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