Evers, a Democrat, cast the six measures as overly restrictive and said he was vetoing them “to protect the right of every eligible person to vote.”
“At the end of the day, these bills add unnecessary and damaging hurdles for Wisconsinites to participate in our democracy, from restricting how an absentee ballot can be returned and by who to limiting municipalities ability to organize community events to help voters return ballots,” he added at a press conference in Madison.
Evers vetoed Wisconsin Assembly Bill 173 and Wisconsin Senate Bills 203, 204, 205, 212, and 292.
The bills would have curtailed how much counties could have accepted from private groups to run elections, required county clerks to return absentee ballots with missing information to voters, mandated nearly all people voting by mail to request absentee ballots before each election, and cut the voter identification exemption for “indefinitely confined voters” and others.
They would have also implemented requirements for voting from long-term care facilities, forced municipalities to keep a record of canvassing proceedings for 22 months if the proceedings were broadcast live in an election, and restricted who can deliver an absentee ballot on behalf of another person.
Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, praised the vetoes.
“Governor Evers has defended our democracy and protected the right of every person to vote, regardless of party, race, or disability. The bills passed by Wisconsin Republicans had nothing to do with election integrity, and everything to do with politicians abusing their power to rig Wisconsin elections by making it harder to vote in a way that they believed would benefit them politically,” he said in a statement.
But Republicans decried the move, alleging the bills would have improved the election system.
“These bills closed loopholes, standardized procedures, established uniformity, guaranteed only the voter can correct their own ballot and protected votes of seniors in long-term care,” Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, said in a statement.
“Our commonsense election integrity bills would have made it easy to vote and harder to cheat. Today, the governor showed he’s committed to keeping the same laws and loopholes that were exploited during the pandemic,” added Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu.
Republicans control both legislative chambers, but do not have enough members in either to override vetoes.
Overriding vetoes in Wisconsin requires a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly and the Senate.