Melissa Harris-Perry | February 09, 2013
>>> in last year's election nearly 400,000 people in wisconsin opted to cast a ballot early, before election day . in 2008 early votes accounted for 21% of the nearly 3 million votes cast in wisconsin and in fact, the state of wisconsin has some of the highest rates of voter participation in the nation. with with near record turnout on election day last year. with those numbers, it would seem a prudent approach to voting policy in wisconsin if it ain't broke, don't fix it. except for one law mamaker in wisconsin seems to think that the rules could still use a little tinkering to make it so that fewer people could vote? currently in wisconsin early voting begins two weeks before election day and ends on the friday beforehand and early voting hours in that window are varied across the state and determined by municipal clerks. some stay open late into the night or weekends to accommodate the citizens who cannot cast a ballot in the so-called normal working hours . well, wisconsin senate representative duey strobel is planning to standardize voting hours for those voters in the state and cap the hours that the clerks could offer for voting. the bill would prevent workers who are unable to cast a vote in normal workday hours from voting. it would also end weekend voting, putting a stop to the sole to the polls effort which churches have adopted to get people to the polls. keeping a close eye on that is mike brown , deputy director of one wisconsin now. nice to see you this morning.
>> thank you so much for having me here today, melissa.
>> this is complicated, right, because it is not ending early voting altogether, but standardizing it, an standardizing it in a way that brings down the available hours. and tell me what impact you think that would likely have on the historic turnout that you have in wisconsin .
>> sure. sure. you are absolutely right. wisconsin has some of the highest voter turnout in the nation, and something that we are rightly proud of. one of the things that has helped us to achieve that are the laws in the state to allow people to reng stgister same day and vote early. what senator strobel is proposing is to place additional barriers to allow people to exercise their franchise. if you work in the day, you will have a harder time casting the vote. in today, in madison, the city clerk has decided to open up the office from 9:00 to noon to allow people to vote for the upcoming february election. und und under representative strobel 's proposal, that would be illegal.
>> why does this need to cease to exist?
>> well, there is a myth of the voting impropriety in wisconsin and an interesting thing that we opened up the records of the 65% of the people who vote in wisconsin and we asked for them to give us the proof of improper voting in wisconsin . and of the 65, most provided no evidence and most provided newspaper articles saying of the two dozen case of voting inpro mighty since 2004 . they have built the campaign on voting on a myth.
>> so, mike, remind me of this, reince priebus, the head of the gop is from wisconsin , correct?
>> he was raised in ke know sha, yes.
>> so he has clearly sort of had on the one hand the position that says that we need to be the par they is more for the greater broader and more diverse group of americans and on the other hand seems to be supporting exactly these kinds of shenanigans that will make it more difficult for that more diverse population to vote.
>> right. well, you are exactly right. reince priebus has said nice things about voting recently, but if you look at the actions over the years here at wisconsin at the national level, it will tell a different story. this goes all of the way back to wisconsin to the 2000 election. the election administrators here in the state of wisconsin actually changed the rules about being able to challenge voters because of the over the top behavior that occurred on the part of republican poll watchers under the state republican party here under reince prebus' lead leadership. he has been involved right up through the current day of to gerrymandering of the state of wisconsin 's legislative and congressional districts . your guests referred to this earlier, but here in wisconsin republicans received 49% of the vote in congressional races, but won 5 of the 8 seats. in the state legislature they received 174,000 fewer votes than democrats and added seats in the legislature, and it continues through with the efforts to implement a voter i.d. law and thankfully enjoined by the courts at that point, but it is to estimated disenfranchise 3 million voters here in the state.
>> thank you, mike browne , because it is not who casts the votes, but who counts the votes who decides these elections. and up next, how to fix the long lines at the polls in three