Bill would expand restrictions on campaigning in nursing homes

Wisconsin legislators have introduced a bill that would ban political candidates and their staff from campaigning at nursing homes on the day voting deputies visit to help residents complete their absentee ballots.

The law currently prevents anyone from trying to influence nursing home voters only while they are filling out their ballots; the proposed legislation would ban such activity for the entire day that voting takes place. Candidates and their supporters who visit nursing homes on the day residents are voting would face the possibility of up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail.

The bill's backers say the law would define the nursing home as a polling place, and, therefore, give nursing homes the same protections polling places have on Election Day.

"We don't allow electioneering at our municipal polling places on Election Day, and it's only fair to treat the nursing home as a polling place for these individuals on that day," Rep. Tyler Vorpagel (R) said during a hearing for the bill.

While bill sponsors say a nursing home administrator requested the new law, opponents of the proposal say it's a “solution in search of a problem that doesn't exist,” according to a Wisconsin Public Radio report.