Supreme Court delays absentee ballot mailings
Absentee ballot enclosed in the envelope. (Photo provided)

Analysis by liberal group on voting habits of Wisconsin politicians reveals majority vote absentee.

More than 80 percent of Wisconsin’s Republican legislators voted absentee in April, even though the party has continually opposed Democrats’ attempts to expand mail-in voting.

Proponents of mail-in voting argue that it should be easier to cast absentee ballots due to health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Republicans often make false claims that mailed ballots greatly increase the risk of fraud. The Associated Press first reported on the Republicans’ voting records after liberal group A Better Wisconsin Together provided the information to the publication. 

Records provided to the Associated Press showed that 94 percent of Republicans in the state Senate and 92 percent of those in the state Assembly have voted absentee since 2018. Eighty-one percent of Assembly Republicans and 83 percent of Senate Republicans did so in April.

About 2.7 million Wisconsin voters are set to get absentee ballot applications after the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave final approval this month to send the applications in the mail.

Such a move was made to decrease health risks for the August and November elections after Wisconsin was embarrassed on a global scale for holding the April 7 election

But Republican leaders, such as Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, have criticized expanded mail-in voting.

Fitzgerald, who voted absentee in April, told the AP in May that Wisconsin’s existing options for absentee voting are sufficient. Those include voting by mail and early in-person voting.

“It (is) easier to vote in Wisconsin than most other states,” Fitzgerald said. He did not respond to the AP’s request for comment on this story.

Vos voted absentee in February but in-person in April, according to records reviewed by the AP. Vos became a punchline around the country after he insisted it was “incredibly safe to go out” on April 7 while clad in head-to-toe personal protective equipment.

Vos supported the Elections Commission’s mailing of absentee ballot applications. 

“Speaker Vos believes voting should be easy to do and uniform throughout the state,” Vos’ spokeswoman, Kit Beyer, told the AP.

However, the Speaker strongly opposed Gov. Tony Evers’ call to send ballots to all Wisconsin voters before April 7, slamming the request as “merely a statewide invitation for voter fraud.”

Rep. Rick Gundrum, R-Slinger, opposed the Elections Commission’s mailing in a letter, calling it “well-intentioned as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” but said he was concerned about the extra work and costs for local clerks. Gundrum has voted absentee four times since 2018, including in April, according to the AP.

Local clerks throughout Wisconsin told UpNorthNews last month that requests were already piling up and expressed concern in keeping up with the deluge of requests, but an extended deadline to count ballots helped offset that. 

Wisconsin voters requested nearly 1.3 million absentee ballots for the April 7 election, but the process was nowhere near issue-free. Several thousand ballots were stuck in the mail or never sent and thousands more were rejected on various technicalities.

Republicans nationwide, all the way up to President Donald Trump, have criticized mail-in voting despite having repeatedly utilized it in the past themselves. Trump has several times made the claim that the November election will be “rigged” if too many people vote by mail, even as 16 of the President’s officials have recently done so.

The absentee voting fraud rate is about 0.0025 percent, or just 372 possible cases out of 14.6 million votes analyzed by the Washington Post.