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.