Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

People stand and sit while voting in an area designated for those needing additional assistance for voting at Marshall High in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. (Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) People stand and sit while voting in an area designated for those needing additional assistance for voting at Marshall High in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. (Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

People stand and sit while voting in an area designated for those needing additional assistance for voting at Marshall High in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. (Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

By Lawrence Andrea July 17, 2020

Wisconsin Dems ignore key details in saying GOP pushed for longer lines and limited voting time

If Your Time is short

  • A number of Wisconsin cities experienced long polling lines in the April 7 election.

  • Lawsuits brought by Republicans did cut short the extended absentee voting window in Wisconsin and prevent a cancellation of the election.

  • But Wisconsin Democrats ignore GOP efforts to encourage absentee and early voting.

With the presidential election just under four months away, party officials on both sides of the aisle are trying to make political hay out of Wisconsin’s tumultuous spring election.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin in early July accused Democrats of closing down voting locations in some of Wisconsin's largest cities during the April 7, 2020, election "to cause chaos."

We rated this claim False, noting the decision to consolidate polling places came down to poll worker shortages. There wasn’t evidence to suggest Democrats would benefit from the chaos, either. 

Now, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has joined in the finger pointing. 

In a July 10, 2020, fundraising email, Wisconsin Democrats touted their push for expanded access to absentee ballots. They also took a shot at their GOP counterparts for their role in the April election.

"While we pushed for vote by mail and expanded early voting, they’ve pushed for long lines and polls open for one day only," Wisconsin Democrats said in the message. 

A number of cities — including Milwaukee and Green Bay — experienced long polling lines in April. But did Wisconsin Republicans really "push" for this?

Let’s take a look.

The claim

When asked to back up the party’s claim, Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Philip Shulman pointed to a Jay Weber Show interview with state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos from April 6, 2020.

Shulman highlighted a portion of the interview in which Vos, R-Rochester, says he opposed extending the deadline to cast an absentee ballot beyond the day of the election. 

The U.S. Supreme Court later that day cut short the extended absentee voting window in Wisconsin and required absentee ballots to be postmarked by April 7, 2020, in order to be counted.

The same day, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute effort to shut down the election. 

Shulman cited this action as one of the ways Republicans "challenged every attempt… to make the election fair and safe." 

Shulman said Republicans "knew full well" there would be long lines due to the consolidation of polling locations, adding they fought against efforts to mitigate this issue.

Featured Fact-check

"The GOP knew what would happen when they challenged and won in court," he said.

The Republican efforts

Wisconsin GOP spokesperson Alesha Guenther, in an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, dismissed the Democrats’ claims, adding they ignore Republican efforts to encourage early and absentee voting.

Guenther pointed to a March 25, 2020, Wisconsin GOP Facebook post encouraging voters to request an absentee ballot. 

She also highlighted a March 16, 2020, post telling supporters to vote early for President Donald Trump and state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, who ended up losing his race to Democratic challenger Jill Karofsky.

A page on the Wisconsin GOP website instructs voters how to request an absentee ballot. It features a video from former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch demonstrating how to upload a picture of a photo ID. 

What’s more, Vos in the June 6, 2020 interview with Jay Weber, also voiced his support for early voting and said he was "open to the idea" of allowing more time for absentee ballots to be counted, not cast.

"We have been encouraging people for a month to go ahead and vote early," Vos said. "Vote by mail. If you don’t feel like you have the ability to go out or you have a concern about people who you love, make sure that you stay in your house. But you still have the right to vote."

The bigger picture

There is no question the lawsuits preventing the cancellation of the election and eliminating the extension of absentee voting forced many to cast their ballots in person despite warnings from top health officials. 

But the reality of the situation is more complicated than pointing the finger at one group.

The assertion that Republicans advocated for "polls open for one day only" keys in on the rejection of extending absentee voting but ignores GOP messages encouraging early voting. 

The idea Republicans "pushed for long lines" is reminiscent of the claim that Democrats wanted to "cause chaos," which we rated False.

Republicans did push for in-person voting during the April 7, 2020, election. But it is a stretch to say they "pushed" for long polling lines.

Our ruling

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin in a fundraising email said Wisconsin Republicans "pushed for long lines and polls open for one day only."

There is some truth in the assertion Republicans pushed for one day of voting, though it does ignore GOP calls for early voting. And although Republicans did advocate for an in-person election, the claim that they "pushed for long lines" is off the mark.

Our definition of Mostly False is the "statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression."

That fits here.

Our Sources

PolitiFact, Wisconsin GOP misfires by saying Democratic mayors closed polling places to ‘cause chaos', July 14, 2020

Email from Alesha Guenther, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, July 13, 2020

Email from Philip Shulman, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, July 14, 2020

The Republican Party of Wisconsin, Facebook, March 25, 2020

The Republican Party of Wisconsin, Facebook, March 16, 2020

The Republican Party of Wisconsin, How to request your absentee ballot, Accessed July 14, 2020

The Republican Party of Wisconsin, WisGOP Statement on Ballot Access Ahead of April 7 Election, March 19, 2020

The Wall Street Journal, Wisconsin Voters Go to Polls Despite Coronavirus Pandemic, April 7, 2020

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Two more lawsuits filed over Wisconsin's spring election seeking to change how and when people vote during coronavirus, March 26, 2020

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin justices block Tony Evers' order to shut down election, U.S. Supreme Court restricts absentee voting, April 6, 2020.

The Jay Weber Show, Speaker Robin Vos on tomorrow’s election, April 6, 2020

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vos claims Milwaukee is not looking for election solution; top election official invites him to work in city's 'hot spots', April 4, 2020

Green Bay Press-Gazette, Green Bay's long election lines draw criticism, but city says staff worked hard to pull off vote during pandemic, April 8, 2020.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Lawrence Andrea

Wisconsin Dems ignore key details in saying GOP pushed for longer lines and limited voting time

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up