Archive for the ‘Voter ID Bill’ Category

WI GOP Legislative Aid Under Investigation for Voter Fraud

Madison, WI. Citing rampant and mostly-nonexistant voter fraud, The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Senate passed one of the most restrictive Voter ID measures in the entire country yesterday. Republican Senator Frank Lassee implied that democrats benefit from voter fraud. “Who benefits from the abuse? I think those are good questions to ask,” he said. “One fraudulent vote cancels out a single legal vote. The other side doesn’t seem to care about that at all”. Meanwhile,  in a rather ironic development, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that a legislative GOP staffer is under investigation for alleged voter fraud.

On April 28th, Dispatches from Fitzwalkerstan initially reported on this story.  Because the original article involved an acquaintance of mine I struggled with the moral dilemma of reporting on it. In November when the subject of the investigation, a Madison resident, first boasted about voting in a community over 100 miles from home, she was called on it.  She asserted she was living in Onalaska while running the assembly campaign of republican Dennis Clinard. Based on a facebook post that clearly advertised her intent to return to the city of Madison the very next day, which she did, she appears to have violated  State election law.  When this author subsequently discussed the matter with Ms. Malszycki in person several days later her response included the following statement “Why would I want to vote for Mark Pocan?”  (reference to the assembly democrat that represents her home district).

Why indeed.

Because you live here.  Because legislation that effects your community occurs here. Because you care about the community you live in.  Because regardless of political ideology, you are invested in your city and want it to remain/become a great place to live.  And if you are a republican, you at least care about your property taxes.

Or not.

It is important to remember that Ms. Malszyki works for a republican assembly representative that co-sponsored a bill seeking to prevent the very activity she engaged in on election day. When reviewing the drafts of the bill, as she must have at some point given her position, did she recognize her own behavior cited in examples? This Voter ID bill has long been planned by Wisconsin republicans with the assistance of the good folks at ALEC. No matter how you spin the story, it is inconceivable that a long-time GOP legislative staffer would be unaware that her nomadic voting activity would be in conflict with state law.

When this was brought to her attention, a few options were at her disposal:

  1. Contact the Onalaska City Clerk and admit that she voted illegally based upon her intent to return to her home district where she lives 20 out of 24 months.  If it was a mistake, admit it, and move on.
  2. Use her legislative position to correct the problem and educate poll workers if in fact it was their misinformation that contributed to her voting illegally.
  3. Say “I didn’t do anything wrong! I just didn’t want to vote for liberals!” and start blaming the author of the original story for her predicament.

She chose number 3.

On May 11th, while sitting in my yard with friends, Ms. Malcyszki came to my home and immediately engaged in a stream of foul language directed at me, in front of my pregnant wife,  three-year-old child, and friend. I asked her to stop. My wife asked her to stop. She refused.  I reminded her that my child was present.  She responded  with”I don’t care! The police went to my  mothers house because of you, so I don’t care about your family”.

Family values.

Ultimately, and I’m not proud, I responded in kind. After all, I’m just one of those “Union Thugs that trashed the capitol”.  Ms. Malszycki inexplicably started yelling about my first marriage that ended in divorce; information she clearly gleaned from the state court system website.  She inarticulately attempted to assert that “It was bad to get divorced, how about I blog about that, huh! Huh!”

Professionalism.

Clearly, she had been drinking as evidenced by the half empty 12 pack of miller lite she was toting around with her. Finally, in a moment straight out of COPS-including barking dogs, a screaming drunk person and precariously perched alcoholic beverages, she was led away by others. She continued to poke her head around the corner and yell things like “Hey big man, why don’t you come over here and have it out with me right now!” This went on until I retrieved my video camera.  When she realized I was taping, the direct assault finally ceased.

Responsibility.

There isn’t any.  Perhaps I’m naive because I truly hoped that writing about her nomadic voting history wouldn’t be perceived as personal and that common sense, and at least a veneer of social courtesy,  would be maintained.  I was wrong.

Why does any of this matter? Because it is indicative of the outraged indignation exhibited by the GOP whenever they themeselves are caught engaging in behavior that they so adamantly attribute to the other side.  While they willfully and aggressively dismantle Wisconsin’s progressive traditions through actions such as removing collective bargaining rights, disregarding open meeting laws, ignoring court orders, restricting public access to the state capitol and publicly ridiculing a sitting circuit court judge, they themselves expect to remain above the law. After all, Governor Walker himself refuses to respond to inquiries from Madison’s own police chief. 

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of hours now, debating on whether to publish it or not.  Especially because it was my intention that this incident involving alleged voter fraud not become personal.

Well, today I’m not a “liberal political blogger”.  Today I’m just a dad who is sad because a 30 year old GOP staffer who should know better made my kid cry. On purpose. Even the Mafia tries to separate “business” from the “personal.”

Why would anyone make this kid cry?

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Voter ID To Pass in Assembly Today

UPDATE: Wisconsin Voter Suppression bill passes assembly and moves on to the Senate where it will most likely pass easily.  Wisconsinites must now show a valid photo ID with current address information in order to vote.  Bad day for participatory democracy.

In a matter of hours, the Wisconsin State Assembly will pass one of the most restrictive voter ID bills in the United States.   This bill, AB-7, would  effectively disenfranchise many low-income, elderly and disabled people even though widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin is essentially a myth.  In 2008, the City of Milwaukee police department conducted a sweeping and comprehensive investigation of the 2004-5 election cycle.  The 67 page report detailed mistakes, errors, and in some cases sloppy procedures by poll workers, but failed to discover significant incidences of voter fraud.  At the time, Foaming-at-the-mouth Milwaukee Conservative Talk Show Host Charlie Sykes called the report a “bombshell”. He propagated the myth on the air and whipped up a frenzy of concern among the far right. most of it proven to be unfounded. What the oft cited report did find was a situation where more votes were cast than voters recorded.  This was clearly detailed in the report to be a clerical and procedural error, not voter fraud. The report goes on to state that that there is nearly no proof of fraud, and cites “the laxity of poll workers” and procedural errors. Investigations of specific cases including double voting, found that most could easily be explained; again clerical errors such as twins with same date of birth and fathers and sons where workers confused Junior and Senior.

What this bill will do is make it nearly impossible for students, who generally lean liberal, to vote. The bill would require voters to provide a state ID issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles that includes a current address. Student ID’s, initially excluded, are now ok. But the Student ID’s must include the same information contained on DMV issued identification cards. Cash-strapped universities will most likely not spend scarce financial resources on such things. Kevin Kennedy, of the non-partisan Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections,  stated: “In order to cultivate engaged, active citizens we need to facilitate voting among our youth rather than imposing artificial barriers to participation.”

It will also complicate the absentee ballot procedure, make it harder for the homebound elderly and disabled to participate in democracy, and potentially cause low income residents to stay away from the polls because perhaps they need to choose between paying their utility bill, or updating their drivers license.

Rep. Jon Richards (D)- 19th Assembly district said moments ago in the now underway hearing “that of the 17 cases of voter fraud in ’08; half were felons trying to vote.” Hardly evidence of wide-spread voter fraud, and somewhat ironically, won’t be prevented by this current GOP authored bill. If you are a felon, and you have a drivers license, you could still potentially vote.

Unfortunately, this bill will pass because the votes necessary to implement it are there.  Thousands of Wisconsin residents will be disenfranchised and most likely stay away from the polls. This is another example of the right wing war on the working class, the elderly and the poor designed specifically to create a permanent Republican majority.  They are pushing this agenda in an accelerated fashion in order to pass a host of measures before the impending mass recall elections;  including concealed carry, voter ID, splitting the UW- System, Corporate Tax Breaks and the Privatization of Entitlement programs.   Let’s not forget that they’ve already attempted to destroy the public unions.

It’s  a Brand New Day in America’s Dairy Land.  WisconsinÜber Alles. 

Scott Walker and his Corporate Puppeteers.

It’s been a cold spring here in Madison.  Just about every rally I’ve been a part of, it seems to have been freezing, snowing and/or raining.  Surprisingly, the weather looked promising for the May Day, or International Workers Day, rally that would begin with speakers in Brittingham Park, involve a March to the State Capitol, and end with additional speakers on the Capitol steps.  Seemed like a great day to load my son Sal into the bike trailer and set out on a bit of an adventure.

Sal in his Chariot about to head out to the rally.

Before leaving the house, I decided to wear my Italian National Football team jacket in recognition of my own immigrant ancestry; My grandparents had come from Comune di Loreto Aprutino in Italy.  There is also an important Italian connection with Brittingham Park, as Italian immigrants used to have annual family picnics there, on the shore of Monona bay.  The park happens to be adjacent to the Greenbush neighborhood which was once the heart and soul of Madison’s Italian community. Sadly, under the guise of “Urban Renewal” in the 1960’s, the Greenbush neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for public housing and hospitals. All of the Italians and African Americans who adored the neighborhood were relocated elsewhere. One of the only remaining remnants of the old ‘Bush is the Italian Workmans Club building, or properly, “Club Lavoratori Italiani Siclilia”. I’m proud to be a member of the council and active in this organization that has continually served the community since 1912.  Anyway, I’m not that far removed from my own familial immigrant past so I feel a particular kinship with current immigrants and their desire for the same opportunities afforded to my family.

So Sal and I pack up and happily hit the road on this beautiful sunny day…and run smack into 30 mph headwinds!  Anyone who has a pulled a bike trailer with a 34 lb 3-year-old and all his “stuff” knows that this was not an easy ride.  We eventually arrive despite the best efforts of the wind to keep us away, and notice that the turnout is pretty impressive, but nowhere near the 100 thousand strong crowd that marched in Milwaukee with National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. There is a solid mix of folks associated with the Immigrant Workers Union, Professional and Labor Unions, families with small children, police, teachers and activists. The main message of the rally is:

A Just Taxation System where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share!
Living Wage Jobs!
The Right to Collectively Organize and Bargain!
Quality, Affordable Public Education!
Instate Tuition for Undocumented Students!
Quality and Affordable Healthcare for All!
Protection of our Environment!
Access to Healthy Food and Quality Housing!
A Secure Retirement!
No Arizona-style Anti-Immigrant Laws!

A pretty broad spectrum of people speak to the issues including Ben Manski from Liberty Tree, Jim Cavanaugh-President of the South Central Federation of Labor, Will Williams- Madison area Peace Coalition and Ibed Cisneros- Workers United.  I recognize many people in the crowd and chat with folks about some upcoming democracy-building activities we’re working on.  Some quotes from the speakers:

“The ‘divide and conquer’ mentality must not stand,” Andy Heidt, a union leader and candidate for State Assembly said. he then led a familiar chant –  “The people, united, will never be defeated!”

“Your issue is my issue,” Will Williams of the Madison Area Peace Coalition stated. “We’re fighting not just for immigrants or for the unions, we’re fighting for freedom.”

Marching up West Washington Avenue to the State Capitol.

The march begins and off we go accompanied by the sound of drums, chants and other instruments.  I connect with Ben and Sarah Manski and Andy Heidt who is running for the 48th District Assembly seat.  We march together, chatting about future plans and current events surrounding the Wisconsin Uprising while carrying the  Wisconsin Wave banner.  My son Sal is excited to be in the “parade” and is very curious about all the activity around him. Traffic is now backed up quite a bit as a couple thousand people have arrived to participate in the march. We reach the capitol and the wind is so strong that voices from the PA system  are carried away. We can’t get close enough because of our bike and trailer.  Sal says he wants a treat, so we walk over to State Street, buy some popcorn, sit on a bench and have a snack while enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and each others company.  I ask him if he had fun today.   He says “We had a very busy day daddy!  I had fun fighting the bad man in the capitol!” At first this seems funny.  Then the realization sets in that my three-year-old pretty much thinks all this stuff going on is the new state of normal. That to him, we always protest, we always fight.  When I was a kid I had no clue about the War In Vietnam and only a vague memory of Iran seizing US hostages.  Now I find myself growing angry that it has come to this; that Governor Walker and a radicalized right wing assembly/senate has given me no choice but to expend time and energy resisting the corporatization of the State that I truly love.  I wonder what memories my son will have of this time, and how participating in these events will shape his future. I am glad that we can participate together though, and share these experiences.

Father and Son on State Street after the rally.

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Voter ID

UPDATE: May 7,  The LaCrosse County DA has asked the Onalaska, WI Police Department to investigate. A detective has been assigned to the case. 

Madison, WI. During election season in Wisconsin it is common for legislative staffers to take a leave of absence and work on campaigns around the state.  For a couple of months they are assigned to a candidate who may not live in their home district, and in many cases, act as campaign managers.

In November of 2010 a republican legislative staffer, who in the past has worked for Rep. Mike Huebsch(Now DOA Secretary) and currently works for Rep. Warren Petryk, was assigned to the Dennis Clinard campaign in LaCrosse, WI.  This staffer owns a home in Madison where she has lived for several years.

On election day, Nov. 2nd, 2010, she posted on Facebook that she “just voted for Walker, Kapanke, Huebsch, Johnson and Van Hollen. Go Team!”.   Wait a minute…Kapanke? Onalaska Wisconsin?

Edited version of FB conversation to protect identity of participants. M is the subject.

But she lives in Madison, not Onalaska.  Her statement caught my attention because I wondered how someone who resides in Madison could vote in a district over 100 miles from their primary residence.   Good question, right? Especially since Governor Walker and our Republican State Legislature, her colleagues,  are making so much noise about fair elections and pushing a mean-spirited Voter ID bill that has the very real possibility of disenfranchising thousands of seniors, students and minorities in order to facilitate the creation of a permanent conservative majority.

The Wisconsin Voter ID Bill, or AB 7,  is set to become one of the most restrictive Voter ID bills in the nation for its special crackdown on students. If it passes, in 2012 voters will need to produce a drivers license, a state ID, a passport or naturalization papers, a military ID or Native American tribal ID in order to vote. A student ID would no longer be an acceptable form of identification.  It will make it difficult for out-of-state students to vote on their college campuses where they live nine months out of the year.

I happen to be a Facebook friend of the wandering Republican legislative staffer in question.  Back in November when she posted the information, I called her on it. She asserted that she “was living there”.  Not true.  She was temporarily residing in Onalaska knowing that she would be returning to Madison the day after the elections as evidenced by her additional facebook post; “Will finally be home in approx. 16 hours! Watch out Lake Point!”  Watch out indeed.

Here is a link to the Wisconsin State Elections Handbook. The following is excerpted from pages 37 and 38:

2. Temporary Absence.
a. Residency is not lost when a person leaves home and goes to another
country, state, county, town, village, or ward temporarily with intent
to return home. Residency cannot be established in any ward, town,
village or city in this state while living there temporarily.

This activity begs the question:  Is it common for GOP staffers to vote in districts where they are temporarily working on campaigns in order to give a little boost to their candidate?  This is what absentee ballots are designed for. In light of recent extremely close contests,  such as the 163 vote victory of  Rep. Randy Hopper over Democrat Jessica King, is it conceivable  that a “Mobile GOP Voting Strike Force” could potentially sway elections? What stops a large corporation, say, Koch Industries, from subsidizing apartments for a month or so where folks could claim residency in critical state elections.  That scenario might sound a bit far fetched, but is it possible? Sure.

Before the GOP endeavors to disenfranchise voters with this bill, perhaps they should police their own operatives to make sure they remember where they reside at election time.