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Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators react to push from President Biden to change Senate rules to pass voting legislation

In the year since the 2020 presidential election, the Republican led legislature has tried to pass legislation to change voting laws.

Many Republican lawmakers believe it will make elections more secure by making it harder for people to commit voter fraud.

According to the Associated Press, Wisconsin election officials identified just 27 potential cases of voter fraud out of 3.3 million ballots cast in the November presidential election.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers has said he’d veto any legislation that would restrict voting rights and access.

Wisconsin is just one of many states that have seen voting-related legislation introduced in the wake of the 2020 election.

Republicans argue they make elections more secure. Democrats say they suppress voter rights.

It’s because of the pushes from states to change voter laws that Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin wants to see the Freedom to Vote Act passed by the U.S. Senate.

She supports changing Senate rules to do so.

“If it’s a choice that I have between protecting your right to vote this, this fundamental, constitutional right, or abolishing or reforming the filibuster, I’m going to reform or abolish the filibuster. I’m going to vote to do that. It is our intent to put every Senator on record as to whether this abuse of the rules should be allowed to continue or not,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of abusing the filibuster to prevent debate on the bill, let alone getting it to a vote.

WXPR reached out to Republican Senator Ron Johnson’s office about his response to President Biden’s push to end the filibuster to get the voting rights act passed.

His aides sent a clip of Johnson during an interview on Fox News’ Fox and Friends on Wednesday.

“People have the right to vote, and they can vote. We are at near record levels, if not at record levels, of voter turnout. So what is the problem? This is a solution looking for a problem. Of course, blowing up the filibuster, 32 Democrats at the beginning of the Trump administration signed a letter that said imploring Republicans, don’t eliminate the filibuster, the unlimited debate. Don't destroy our institution here. 27 of those Senate Democrats are still in the Senate. Now, what are they asking to do? They are asking to destroy the Senate, to end unlimited debate. Total hypocrites,” said Johnson in the interview.

Getting rid of the filibuster is unlikely to happenas the move doesn’t have the support of all Senate Democrats.

There is a way to force a debate, but 10 Senate Republicans would need to vote yes to pass the legislation with the 60 votes needed.

Wisconsin Election Investigation

While many are focused on two key pieces of federal legislation looking to secure voting rights in future elections, many in Wisconsin are still focused on the 2020 Presidential Election.

In an interview with WXPR, the Baldwin called the taxpayer funded investigation “nothing more than harassment.”

She says there’s been the initial tally, county canvasses, two recounts in the most populous counties, and a legislative audit, all of which have confirmed Biden won the election in Wisconsin.

“None of them have cast any question about the outcome of the November 2020 election and yet there’s still another investigation. I have to conclude that this is just about harassing these election officials,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin supports the Freedom to Vote Act, in part, because it has provisions to prevent harassment.

But she says another factor is leaders taking responsibility.

“Part of leadership is about calling out lies when the occur. There’s a lot of conspiracy theories out there. I was proud of one of my Republican colleagues in the Senate who in the last 24 hours came out very publicly to say it’s high time that members of his party stop telling lies about the November 2020 election,” she said.

Baldwin believes passing the Freedom to Vote Act will restore people’s confidence in the electoral process.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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