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Early voting limits approved by state Senate

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - New limits on early voting were approved by the Wisconsin Senate Wednesday morning.

The vote was 17-16 in favor of a Republican plan to end night-and-weekend hours for in-person absentee voting in the two weeks before an election. Moderate Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center joined all Democrats in voting no.

Democrats blocked passage of that bill and several others Tuesday -- and Republican leaders called this morning's session to get them approved.

The early voting bill would end organizational weekend voter drives that were staged in Madison and Milwaukee just before the 2012 presidential contest. Republicans said most Wisconsin communities don't have the workers to handle those kinds of voting hours, and uniform policies were needed statewide.

The bill's opponents accused the GOP of stifling minorities and other bigger city groups which are most likely to vote with the Democrats.

The bill attracted so much emotion Tuesday that Milwaukee Democrat Tim Carpenter accused the bill's Republican sponsor of showing "hatred" against minorities by discouraging them to vote. GOP senators took issue and demanded an apology.

On the same 17-16 vote Wednesday morning, the Senate passed a bill allowing poll workers to live in the same counties where they serve, instead of in the same communities and voting wards.

Also, a bill to limit liability to $300,000 for parents of teenage drivers passed by the same one-vote margin.