In 2016, the role of Florida — with its six hour voting lines in 2012 — could be played by Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) state of Wisconsin. That’s because of a bill Walker signed on Thursday eliminating early voting in Wisconsin on weekends. This is the second time Walker signed a restriction on early voting into law. In 2011, he signed a bill reducing early voting from three weeks to two, and limiting it to just one weekend.
In 2012, a federal appeals court struck down a similar attempt to restrict early voting in Ohio (though, it should be noted that some unique features of that law made it particularly susceptible to a court challenge). As the court noted in its opinion, “early voters have disproportionately lower incomes and less education than election day voters.” Indeed, because low-income voters often have far less job flexibility than wealthier individuals, they may be unable to make it to the polls on election day — or on any weekday, for that matter.
Additionally, cutting weekend voting may lead to fewer African American voters turning out as well. After Florida’s restrictions on early voting contributed to the long lines that state saw in 2012, several Republicans admitted that the purpose of the bill was voter suppression. One GOP consultant said that the bill eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day because “that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves.”
Both low-income voters and African Americans tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans. In 2012, 93 percent of black voters and and 63 percent of voters earning less than $30,000 choose Obama over Romney.