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State Assembly approves several voting restrictions early Friday

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Assembly worked until 2:10 a.m. Friday, as majority Republicans rammed through a series of new voting restrictions. 

On mostly party line votes, the Assembly moved to adjust the voter ID law that's now tied up in the courts -- limit early absentee voting by banning it on nights and weekends -- and allow state and local elected officials to be recalled only if they're suspected of crimes or ethical violations. 

All those measures face uncertain futures in the Senate, where GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald has already said he won't take up the voter ID reinstatement until the courts act on the original 2011 law.

Assembly Republicans said they needed to press forward to make sure voters show ID's in next year's elections.

The new measure allows those who cannot afford ID's to vote by signing affidavits. Milwaukee Democrat JoCasta Zamarippa said it requires poor people to show a "Scarlet Letter" by declaring that they're indigent. 

Beaver Dam Republican Mark Born says it's necessary to preserve the public's faith in elections. The GOP said the early voting limits were needed to create uniform hours around the state. Democrats said it would suppress the vote. 

Kaukauna Republican Jim Steineke spoke up for the recall limits, saying, "It's time we return predictability to the electoral process." Milwaukee Democrat Fred Kessler said called the moves an affront to democracy. 

Also, the Assembly voted along party lines in favor of a constitutional amendment to have the Supreme Court elect its chief justice every two years. It must pass again next session before going to a statewide referendum. 

Democrats called it an effort to remove liberal chief justice Shirley Abrahamson.