Sep 16, 2014

Crisis Management Requires Straight Talk

Thousands of voters in Wisconsin are divided into discrete classes by the rules implementing the Seventh Circuit's ruling last week, and the classes are treated radically differently by sworn election officials. In a different context the disparity of treatment would constitute electioneering.

The cases are Ruthelle Frank v. Scott Walker (14-2058), and Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker.

Will Kevin Kennedy, top election bureaucrat, instruct municipal clerks to contact local media and let voters know that their "local Department of Motor Vehicles service centers are open only two days each week, generally for 10 hours?" (Milekski, the Capital Times) Will Kennedy speak to lack of wisdom and questionable ethics of lifting Judge Ademan's injunction last Friday?

That the question Todd D. Milekski's reporting raises in this reader of The Capital Times today:

For residents in 48 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, there are only 14 or 15 days left to secure a photo ID, needed to vote in the general election on Nov. 4.

In those 48 counties, the local Department of Motor Vehicles service centers are open only two days each week, generally for 10 hours, on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.

With seven weeks left until the general election and the state's voter ID law back in place thanks to a ruling Friday by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the clock is ticking for anyone who needs identification that will allow them to vote on Nov. 4.

No, these residents in the 48 counties referenced won't be given any phone calls from local election officials because the Seventh Circuit just changed the rules of the game, and the GAB is making no moves to help these people with little opportunity to get an ID, not even in rhetoric.

Other voters will be personally contacted and advised of the rule changes, per the GAB.

"For those ballots that have already gone out, clerks will have to contact voters and inform them they need to submit a copy of their photo ID before their vote will be counted. The G.A.B. has developed a communication for clerks to use," the Government Accountability Board's Kennedy said today in prepared remarks.

Elsewhere, Jessica VanEgeren in the Cap Times notes today that almost 12,000 absentee ballots have already been sent out, and to "give an idea of how many residents vote absentee, there were 230,744 absentee ballots cast in 2012 and 664,597 ballot cast in 2012, according to the GAB."

The point here is that the ad hoc scheme the GAB is devising will have major consequences on the election, beyond the fact that voters are treated differently by election officials with the costs potentially being the loss of the franchise.

The costs are high.

Kennedy and others at the GAB should quit playing the 'crats-afraid-for-their-jobs game, stow the boilerplate rhetoric, state how important elections are and that they are imperiled, and how irregular the Court's ruling is on the eve of Election Day.

That the facts of the panel's ruling have not penetrated the Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit is beyond dispute.

Here's a suggested statement for Kennedy for tomorrow:

What we have done is treat voters differently under the laws and regulations of Wisconsin. Yes, there are Equal Protection violations, I mean you cannot have election official favor one class of voters. At fault is U.S. Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit' three judge panel and its imbecilic ruling in Ruthelle Frank v. Scott Walker (14-2058), and Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker.

Don't hold your breath for that ruling; Kennedy is not exactly known for moral courage.

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