Wisconsin Voter Protection Act

Senate Bill 640/Assembly Bill 895

April 8, 2010

Senate Bill 640 and Assembly Bill 895 change a number of laws relating to elections and voting in Wisconsin. The primary changes include: determining how Wisconsin will implement the federal MOVE Act requirements regarding absentee ballots for military and overseas voters; facilitating automatic voter registration through various state agencies; streamlining in-person absentee voting and setting up a permanent list for mail-in absentee ballots; prohibiting voter intimidation and suppression by establishing a voter bill of rights; and easing election worker burdens by implementing local clerk recommendations regarding election workload and clarifying existing election statutes.

SB 640 and AB 895 were introduced by Senator Spencer Coggs and Representative Jeff Smith on March 23, 2010 and March 24, 2010 respectively. A joint public hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs and Assembly Commitee on Elections and Campaign Reform on both bills was held on March 31, 2010.

The Senate committee passed SB 640 with one amendment and the Assembly committee passed AB 895 without amendments on April 1, 2010. Bills will next go before the Joint Committee on Finance.

The bill’s lead sponsors introduced a substitute amendment requiring a anyone challenging a voter’s qualifications to be a voter in the same county as the voter being challenged and providing for online voter registration (also proposed in AB 892/SB 645). The Joint Committee on Finance met on April 7, 2010 and approved the substitute amendment.