Oct 21, 2011

Citizens' Challenge to Republican Voter Obstruction Cites Wisconsin Constitution

Wisconsin citizens voting is costing Republicans elections, so the Republican Party remains determined to stop Wisconsinites who vote the wrong way

The League of Women Voters Wisconsin Education Network has filed a challenge to the Republican voter obstruction bill citing the Wisconsin Constitution.

The Voter-Photo-ID-law-at-the-polls act was passed and signed into law this year with lone Republican support in the face of widespread criticism the Republican Party acted to prevent Wisconsin citizens from casting votes as in guaranteed under the Wisconsin Constitution.

The pursuit of Republican partisan objectives by suppressing votes is a project that is a years-long, national GOP-Tea Party effort that could affect more than five million Americans nationwide.

The challenge on behalf on Wisconsin voters [electors] is a state challenge, amid speculation that federal challenges will also ensue likely after the Wisconsin Spring Primary in February 2012.

Federal court challenges, that would often be controlled by the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (No 07-21) (2008) upholding an Indiana voter ID law, demand 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.
Federal and U.S. constitutional election law is a complex area of citizen rights that does not apply uniformly among the 50 states. For example, under the landmark civil rights legislation, [Section 5] of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, sixteen states must in their entirety [or certain counties within these 16 states] obtain preclerance before legislation such as GOP voter obstruction laws can be enacted because of a history of discriminatory voting practices.
The 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act was championed by Wisconsin's U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner. Sensenbrenner wrote in July 2006:
There is no right more fundamental than the right to vote. It is the core of our democratic system of government, and its effective exercise preserves all other rights.
Many advocates today are pushing for federal civil rights challenges in states with Republican voter suppression laws prior to the controversial suppression mandates under the 14th, and the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing poll taxes. For example, a letter singed by Democratic U.S. senators, including Sen. Herb Kohl, was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder in July 2011 demanding such action.

As federal civil rights law suits and state challenges to Republican voter suppression laws continue among GOP-targeted states, an instructive resource include the sites, Election Law at Moritz and the Brad Blog.

The Wisconsin League's challenges Republican obstruction by noting in part the burden placed upon voters obtaining voter IDs:

The burden imposed upon otherwise qualified electors to procure permissible form of photo identification to vote is further exacerbated by state policy which instructs DMV representatives not to advise electors that the $28 fee for such is waived if the applicant seeks the ID for the purpose of voting, unless the elector specifically request a free ID for the purposes of voting. The $28 fee is charged to any elector who fails to affirmatively request a free ID for voting. Further, if electors seeking to replace a previously issued ID that was lost or destroyed through no fault of voter, the fee is not waived and the elector must pay a fee replacement of $16.
As noted in the Brad Blog:

Kristina Boardman, Director of WisDOT's Bureau of Field Services explained to The BRAD BLOG at the time that the reason they've instructed DMV staffers to not ask applicants if the ID is to be used for voting purposes is because 'the statutory language specifically puts the onus on the customer for getting the ID for free for voting.'
Such a burden for voters to obtain a photo ID from a government institution explicitly ordered to obscure  that a fee can be waived and specifying that for purposes of voting the fee be obscured would appear to offer a basis for an argument that Wisconsin's $28 fee is an impermissible poll tax.

As for the Wisconsin state challenge, as also noted in the Brad Blog, "[T]he AFL-CIO [pointed out] ... those without state-issued photo IDs who would need to obtain one to vote under the [Wisconsin] Voter ID Bill include":
•23 percent of Wisconsinites over the age of 65.

•17 percent of white men and women.

•55 percent of African American males and 49 percent of African American women.

•46 percent of Hispanic men and 59 percent of Hispanic women.

•78 percent of African American males age 18-24 and 66 percent of African American women age 18-24
Currently, the Republican Party remains adamant in its efforts to disenfranchise voters, and the Democratic Party remains equally determined to ensure the fundamental right to vote that is in the words of Rep. Sensenbrenner "the core of our democratic system of government ... [preserving] all other rights" be preserved for Wisconsin citizens against the partisan efforts best suited to a banana republic, and not the great state of Wisconsin.

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