May 27, 2016

Bizarre Republican Polemics Defending Voter Obstruction

Even in the courtroom Republican defenders of voter obstruction substitute polemics for constitutional reasoning as Republicans refuse to close out project attacking voting rights

Republican defenders of voter obstruction often use virtually identical language to defend state laws that "disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government," to borrow a phrase from Judge Richard Posner.

Posner's extraordinary 2104 On Suggestion of Rehearing En Banc is a veritable judicial white paper explaining Republican state efforts to suppress voters, (Posner, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit), (Friedman, The Brad Blog), (Mal Contends).

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, the Republican Party's point man on Republican voter obstruction in his state, announced yesterday his office filed an appeal in the voting rights case, Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Jon Hustad (Case No. 2:15-cv-1802), (Ohio Secretary of State).

Said Hustad, "To ensure we were fulfilling our goal of making it easy to vote and hard to cheat, we expanded weekend and weekday hours for in-person absentee voting as part of a compromise for the reduction in hours that came with the elimination of Golden Week," (Hustad, Ohio Secretary of State) (emphasis added). Hustad terms the Ohio Organizing Collaborative case the Ohio Democratic Party et al v. Husted, using Republican Party polemics contradicting the federal judge hearing the case on the title.

Easy to vote and hard to cheat.

This phrase may sound familiar to Wisconsin politicos. That's because the Republican Gov. Scott Walker often uses the phrase (or a derivation) when trying to defend voter obstruction in Wisconsin.

"In our state we have a photo ID requirement that would make it easy to vote and hard to cheat," Walker told reporters last year at Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride event, (CBS News, June 6, 2015) (emphasis added).

From Ohio to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and across the country, Republican voter obstruction operatives such as Hans von Spakovsky, and John Fund employ the phrase as a justification for voter obstruction laws such as Wisconsin's. Catchy phrase but vacuous as an argument.


In Wisconsin, the Republican case for voter obstruction as made at the bench trial of One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol (U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin (Case 15-cv-324)) has veered into the vacuous and the bizarre.

Novack Doctrine

One witness for the Republicans, Waukesha County Clerk Kathleen Novack, testified at One Wisconsin, saying, "too much access to the voters as far as opportunities" to vote exist in Madison and Milwaukee, (Jake's Economic TA Funhouse), (Opoien, The Capital Times). This would be the Novack Doctrine, a guiding principle of Republican jurisprudence in voting rights law.

Schimel Doctrine

Republicans at the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice also kept up their line of reasoning that photo voter IDs are popular with citizens who possess the Ids, hence Wisconsin's restrictive law conditioning the right to vote on presenting Republican-approved photo voter IDs is both popular and Constitutional, (Mal Contends). This is the Schimel Doctrine, so named after Wisconsin's current Republican attorney general.

The Schimel Doctrine that voting restrictions' constitutionality is conditioned on polling numbers was ridiculed by a Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit's three-judge panel in 2014.

"What conceivable relevance is a polling number to this litigation?," said Judge Frank Easterbrook, a voting rights opponent and author of the 2014 opinion upholding Wisconsin's photo voter ID law in Frank v. Walker.

Testimony has concluded in One Wisconsin. Closing arguments are scheduled for June 30.

One Wisconsin Institute

Below is a press release from the One Wisconsin Institute on the conclusion of testimony.

Testimony Concludes in Federal Voting Rights Trial Challenge to Republican-Led Attacks on Electoral Participation in Wisconsin

Intentions of Five Year Campaign to Undermine Voting Rights and Impacts of Voter Suppression Schemes on Legal Voters Exposed

MADISON, Wis. — Testimony concluded today in the federal voting rights trial, One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v. Gerald Nichol et. al., which challenges the state voter ID requirement, changes to voter registration requirements, limits on early voting and other restrictive changes to Wisconsin’s election laws adopted by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature.

Plaintiffs argued that the changes were meant to and have the effect of making it more difficult to vote in Wisconsin, especially for minorities, young people, and voters who tend to support Democratic candidates.

The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross:

“The testimony and evidence provided to the court exposed the intentions behind the myriad of election law changes and revealed the impacts on voters of the five year assault on their rights perpetrated by Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature.

“Gov. Walker and Republican legislators set out to make it harder for minorities, young people and voters who tend to support Democratic candidates to participate in our elections. As a result, legal voters have been denied the franchise, and will continue to be denied their right to vote unless their suppression schemes are struck down.

“The real voting fraud in Wisconsin has been exposed, and it is these politicians manipulating the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage.

“Their actions have subverted our democracy and violate federal law.”
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One Wisconsin Institute is a non-partisan, progressive research and education organization dedicated to a Wisconsin with equal economic opportunity for all.

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