Interestingly enough, even as Paul Ryan battles controversy for his remarks about the disinclination to work of men living in inner cities, his buddies back home in the Wisconsin legislature are working to insure these bums don’t get cut any slack when it comes to voting. Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the story:

After being blocked by Democrats a day earlier, Republican state senators narrowly approved bills Wednesday to end weekend voting before elections, allow lobbyists to make political donations earlier in the political season and curb lawsuits by those exposed to asbestos.

Under one bill, approved by a one-vote margin, early voting in clerks’ offices could occur only on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Clerks would not be able to hold early voting during all of that period, however, because they would be limited to allowing a total of 45 hours of early voting a week.

Democrats told Republicans they saw the move as an effort to suppress voting by their supporters.

“I feel like I’m in 1906, fighting the fights that people who came long before me had to fight,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who is African-American. “I would argue it screams of backward-thinking mentality, all the way back to Jim Crow, and you should be ashamed.”

I just love the public rationale Republicans are offering for this step:

Republicans did not speak on the merits of the bill during Wednesday’s debate, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told reporters after the vote that the measure would level the playing field for urban and rural areas because rural clerks don’t have the staff to keep the long hours that cities do.

“It’s difficult for people to turn on Channel 6 in Milwaukee … and there’s a shot of someone voting during a time when it’s not available to people in rural areas,” Fitzgerald said.

Yeah, nothing like TV images of those people trooping to the polls to rile up rural conservative voters.

D’you suppose it has occurred to these solons that a simpler way to deal with the alleged discrepancy is to appropriate funds to rural election offices for temporary weekend staff? Or is the idea of spending small amounts of money to vindicate much-fought-for voting rights just beyond their ken?

I guess the even odder thing is the contrast between the stereotypes Ryan is promoting and the realities on the ground. If those “inner-city” people really were just sitting around collecting government assistance all week, they wouldn’t need weekend voting opportunities, would they?

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.