Jul 10, 2011

No Voter IDs Required for Recall Elections

The above headline is a fact.

Voters do not need a new Voter ID "until the Presidential Preference Primary in the Spring of 2012," as the Wisconsin Governmental Accountability Board clearly states.

Unfortunately, the Wisconsin State Journal editors appear committed to confusing the issue in its hard-copy edition of the Sunday paper.

It's top-of-the-fold Sunday piece includes a teaser with a sub-headline Voter ID Law, "find out what you'll need to bring to the polls."

Inside the State Journal on p. 11, the below-the-fold lede in the referenced piece reads: "Voters in Tuesday's primary election and next month's state Senate recalls won't have to show a picture ID."

Running this fact on page one as a method of informing readers is not so hard. One would think hyping this fact on would be instructive.

Timing of Challenges

As the right to vote in Wisconsin is well-protected in the Wisconsin Constitution and state statute, ...

[See] ... The Wisconsin Constitution vests and warrants the right [to vote] at the time of election. Every one having the constitutional qualifications then, may to go the polls, vested with this franchise, of which no statutory condition precedent can deprive him, because the [Wisconsin] constitution makes him, by force of his present qualifications, a qualified voter at such election" [Wis. Const, art III, section 1] Wood v. Baker, 38 Wis. 71: (August 1875)] Wisc. - Wisconsin Supreme Court
... it's likely that a challenge in state Court is forthcoming.

But timing is critical to achieve the objective of halting the GOP-desired disenfranchising of Democratically leaning voters.

So, a Wisconsin court judicial injunction against the voter suppression bill that would, one fears, be overturned by a corrupt Wisconsin Supreme Court has to be timed so that the ultimate result is adjudicated during or shortly before the presidential general November 2012 election.

Federal Challenges

As noted here in February:

A federal court challenge seems unlikely as one effect of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (No 07-21) (2008) upholding an Indiana voter ID law is that "future challenges to voter laws must be filed with respect to the application of a specific law—after its controversial mandates are already applied in an election," as noted by the Brennan Center, a leading civil rights organization. [See also Justin Levitt's The Truth About Voter Fraud.]
On the other hand, a federal challenge could be filed after the Presidential Preference Primary in the Spring of 2012, with the result being that the suppression act is enjoined before the November general election.

But the voter suppression bill is crafted to meet the federal test of the burden imposed on eligible voters vis a vis the "integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself." [Harper’s standard. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U. S. 780 , n. 9.]

The fact is that the GOP program to suppress and obstruct voters is not deemed relevant to corporate media coverage.

One would think that the integrity and reliability of the process facilitates and does not obstruct legal voting. That is an incorrect assessment.

Barry Sarlin (TPM) notes:
Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.

'There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,' Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington.
No such remarks from President Obama yet who apparently feels that fighting for the right to vote is a politically losing proposition, just not worth the trouble.


Of course, it is possible that the tortured reasoning that would lead the Wisconsin Supreme Court to uphold the voter suppression bill is too much even for the state Republican justices.

Let's hope a judge hearing the state challenge notes, as did Judge Sumi in 2008 on the concerted GOP voter suppression effort, the Roth v. LaFarge School District Board of Canvassers (2004) [No.02-0542] case:

[T]he Supreme Court four years ago pretty cogently summarized what the law is. The court ... concluded in Roth v. LaFarge School District Board of Canvassers in 2004, this is Justice Crooks speaking for a unanimous court: It is evident, the court said, noting Wisconsin's proud history of protecting the right to vote, 'It is evident that this court has constantly placed a premium on giving effect to the will of the voter.' And not just the will of the voter with respect to whether there's a checkmark in the right place, whether, if we were in Florida, hanging chads, or any other formal problem, but the will of the voter in terms of the ability to go to the polls, vested with the franchise [to vote].
Fighting for "the will of the voter in terms of the ability to go to the polls, vested with the franchise," sounds like the American thing to do, certainly the Wisconsin thing to do.

Justice Crooks in Roth v. LaFarge School District Board of Canvassers (2004) [No.02-0542] writes:

¶ 44 Wisconsin's general principle of inclusion supports the conclusion of counting the vote in this case. As the majority correctly recognizes, this principle is supported by our precedent, 'Wisconsin courts have consistently noted that they do not want to deprive voters of the chance to have their votes counted.' Majority op., ¶¶ 19-25 (citing e.g., State ex. rel. Wood v. Baker, 38 Wis. 71 (1875), Ollmann v. Kowalewski, 238 Wis. 574, 300 N.W. 183 (1941), Hackbarth v. Erickson, 147 Wis.2d 467, 433 N.W.2d 266 (Ct.App.1988)).
Faced with an array of anti-democratic forces in the press and GOP, whether President Obama is worth the trouble of casting a vote for is a different, wide-open question; Obama cannot be depended on to act as if our vote counts.

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