In an election cycle with many surprises, the best surprise for Wisconsin voters has been the return of early voting. With early voting running through the end of the week, 685,644 Wisconsinites have already cast ballots, surpassing the 664,597 in 2012. Dane County and the Cities of Milwaukee and Appleton have had more ballots turned in than ever before. 

What we've learned is that when voting is easy and accessible more people participate in the Democratic process. Despite this unprecedented voter participation – or perhaps because of it - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced today that legislative Republicans were looking into curtailing early voting in the next legislative session.  

"Early voting has been an outstanding success here in Wisconsin, giving people more opportunities to get to the ballot box and make their voices heard,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Friday. “By trying to limit Wisconsinites access to early voting, it’s clear that Republican leaders are afraid to face the will of the voters – and are trying change the rules in their favor.”

Early voting gives voters many more options to ensure they have an opportunity to cast their ballot and ensure their voices are heard. This has led to unparalleled voter participation around Wisconsin: 

Wausau Daily Herald: Wisconsin sets early voting record
Driven by a surge of early voters in Dane County and the Fox Valley, Wisconsin set a record Friday for the number of ballots received before an election day with the number still expected to grow. More than 685,000 ballots have been received by election officials so far, exceeding the 2012 presidential election total by nearly 20,000 and the 2008 election total by about 38,000, according to state tallies.

WISN: Milwaukee sets record for early voting
Through Wednesday, more than 38,000 ballots had been returned in the city, eclipsing the 2012 total of approximately 36,500. Early in-person absentee voting continues in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday.

WPR: Latino Early Voters Set Milwaukee Record
More than 2,000 Latino voters in Milwaukee have already voted in this year's presidential election, a record number of voters with a little less than a week remaining until Election Day, according to Voces de la Frontera, a nonprofit organization that works with the Latino community.

CapTimes: Madison early voters smashing previous records 
But this year, early bird voters can choose from a variety of early voting locations throughout the city, thanks to a federal judge's ruling in July. Thousands of voters have already cast their vote for the 2016 election, setting records for early and absentee voting in Madison. As of Tuesday, 26,527 people had voted early, smashing the previous record of 18,752 absentees cast in person in November 2012.

"The people of Wisconsin are going to send a clear message to Speaker Vos on November 8th: Don't mess with our vote." Laning concluded.