Wisconsin judge blocks cuts to early voting passed during lame duck

Residents cast their votes at a polling place
Residents cast their votes at a polling place. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday blocked cuts to early voting in Wisconsin that were enacted late last year by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature during a controversial lame duck session.

The backdrop: The same judge, U.S. District Judge James Peterson, had struck down a similar two-week early voting restriction as unconstitutional in 2016. At the time, Patterson said Republican lawmakers crafted the measures to suppress minority voters and others who traditionally vote Democratic.

Details: A coalition of liberal groups, with the support of former Attorney General Eric Holder, argued in the latest challenge that the Republicans' move was "in direct violation" of Peterson’s 2016 order, calling the lame-duck session a “partisan attempt to retain and regain power.”

  • Slashing early voting would deprive counties the authority to decide when to start. Democratic strongholds like Madison and Milwaukee, unlike other more conservative communities, began early voting six weeks before last year's midterm contests.
  • But Republicans argued the date that voting starts should be uniform across the state.

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