Testimony against extraordinary legislation

Testimony against Assembly Bill 1073, LRB-6076, Assembly Bill 1071, LRB-6077, Assembly Bill 1072, LRB-6078, Assembly Bill 1073, LRB-6079

Before the Joint Committee on Finance.

December 3, 2018

Members of the Joint Committee on Finance, thank you for the opportunity to share our position on this legislation. My name is Lindsay Lemmer, and I’m the president of the Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

The Wisconsin Chapter of the National Organization for Women – Wisconsin NOW – wishes to be recorded as strongly against Assembly Bill 1073, LRB-6076, Assembly Bill 1071, LRB-6077, Assembly Bill 1072, LRB-6078, Assembly Bill 1073, and LRB-6079. These bills undermine the will of the electorate, expressed at the ballot box three weeks ago. Our members and the communities we serve would be negatively impacted by the proposed restrictions on early voting, the proposed move of the presidential primary date, and the proposed curtailments of the authority of the attorney general’s office and the office of governor.

Reducing the time window for in-person absentee voting disparately impacts larger areas, Madison and Milwaukee specifically. The discriminatory effect of this is well-documented. Additionally, according to studies performed by the Brennan Center for Justice, reducing the window for early voting increases stress on polling locations on Election Day, causes longer lines on Election Day, causes errors and voting system glitches to be discovered in a less timely manner, and reduces access to voting and voter satisfaction.

Sixty of the state’s 72 county clerks offices oppose moving the date of the presidential primary. The likelihood of this causing a chaotic situation and creating confusion for election workers and voters alike seems apparent. We would expect this to also drive up the costs for taxpayers.

For the first time since 1982, Wisconsin voters elected all Democrats to the state’s constitutional offices. The proposals that weaken the powers of the governor and the attorney general seems profoundly undemocratic. To fundamentally alter the office of the attorney general by giving the legislature the ability to elect their own attorneys for state cases will additionally put Wisconsin taxpayers on the hook for covering those attorney fees.

Wisconsin NOW’s members and communities will be hurt by these bills. Their voices, which they used by casting their ballots in the midterms, will be silenced. Please do not support this legislation.

Thank you for your time and consideration.