Showing posts with label Republican Voter Obstruction Wisconsin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Republican Voter Obstruction Wisconsin. Show all posts

Apr 22, 2014

Photo Voter ID for the Wisconsin November Election—A Voter System Usability Test

Updated - February 21, 2012 is the only day in Wisconsin history when a new statutory condition—a new qualification—had to be satisfied to cast a vote without an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution.

This statutory condition, a new qualification, is likely one of the grounds on which the Wisconsin Supreme Court will strike down Wisconsin's photo voter ID law, Act 23, as unconstitutional.

Scott Walker knew he and the Republican Party legislators enacted an unconstitutional law that stopped qualified, registered Wisconsin voters from voting.

Scott Walker knows in a heavy voter turn-out election, Act 23 (had it not been enjoined by state courts, and likely a federal judge as well) would obstruct and suppress potentially 100,000s of voters.

This knowledge does not weigh on Walker because stopping Wisconsin voters from voting is precisely the point of Act 23, and the GOP's other voter obstruction laws passed since they took control of the legislature and executive branch.

Put aside. for the moment, the facts demonstrated in federal and state court that blacks, Latinos, the elderly, homeless, homeless veterans, and college students for example would face barriers and burdens imposed by the Republican Party's Act 23.

The February 21, 2012 Spring Primary Election Day—when no statewide races were on the ballots and turn-out was in the single digits—provided a usability test for photo voter ID.

I worked as an election inspector on the voter rolls books on February 21, 2012, at Fire Station #2 (Fitchburg, Wisconsin (Wards 1-4; District one)).

I can tell you that the time imposed on the system, assuming Act 23 or a new photo voter ID act is in effect, would on the November 2014 General Election Day cause huge lines, massive delays, and sow confusion at the polling place: All GOP objectives.

Assume a photo voter ID law is in place in November 2014, as Walker says he'll attempt to enact after the expected judicial knockdown of Act 23, in this heavy turn-out election the waiting times would become unbearable to many.

In this scenario, Wisconsin GAB regulations [which would be slightly revised for a new law] would require each voter at the polls to state his name and address, sign his or her name on the voting rolls, and present a GOP-approved photo voter ID to poll worker (election inspector).

The poll worker in turn would examine the ID against the restrictive list of acceptable IDs; check the name on the ID against the voting roll; examine the photo for resemblance to the voter; and then physically hand the ID to the second poll worker who repeats the process.

The variables of the extra time for the single voter may not seem like much, but this variable (the time increases) are multiplied the longer the line and the higher the turn-out on Election Day.

Throw in time increase factors built into the Wisconsin voting system by Republicans since 2011 such as eliminating weekend early voting, multiple shortening of early-voting periods, new residency rules, elimination of third-person attesting to residency, and so on and the result is less Wisconsin people will have voted.

This is the Republican objective.

In June 2012, many polling places experienced near-presidential level turn-out on the Recall General Election day. Had the photo voter ID rules been in effect, the long lines, and over-an-hour waits for voters registering at the polls on Election Day that already existed that day would have been catastrophically increased, assuming the objective of constitutionally qualified voters casting their preference on Election Day.

Apr 4, 2014

"League of Women Vultures," Says Koch brothers-funded Wisconsin Club for Growth

Updated - The GOP project of obstructing Americans voters in disfavor with the Republican Party has for years come with the GOP attack on campaign finance laws meant to halt corruption in government.

It was no surprise to read that African-Americans, Latinos, students, Jews and gays are hit with bigoted jokes and disparaging comments behind closed Republican doors.

Such voters tend to vote non-Republican, thus are illegitimate to the contemporary Republican powers that be, a group that now openly boasts about its distaste for non-whites.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, founded by the suffragists who fought for 75 years to win the right to vote for women, are known as "Vultures" by the Wisconsin Club for Growth which funds GOP candidates.

Vultures. [Wisconsin Club for Growth source code reads: "<meta property="og:title" content="League of Women Vultures"/>."

The text of an e-mail sent by Melanie G. Ramey of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin illustrates the disdain Scott Walker and his allies have for those committed to universal suffrage and a government of the people.

By Melanie G. Ramey

We don’t often write about other organizations, particularly when we disagree with many of their positions. However, that has not stopped the Club for Growth from writing about us a number of times. An organization with ties to the Koch brothers, Club for Growth (CFG) is currently under investigation for possible campaign finance violations. It sent out an ugly April 2 email with the not-very-original subject line “League of Women Vultures.” Really.

The email took issue with a League of Women Voters® of Wisconsin statement objecting to Governor Walker’s signing of a law banning evening and weekend hours for early voting.

The CFG email reads: “Demonstrating that it doesn’t know or doesn’t care what it’s saying, the League of Women Voters said, “If lawmakers truly want to be fair for voters across the state, they will scrap this regressive law as soon as possible.””

Their snide comment notwithstanding, CFG did quote exactly what the League said. We know that by treating all municipalities equally the new law does not treat all voters equally. Each municipality is allowed one early voting site, regardless of its population. It’s hard to ensure “one person, one vote” when, for example, Milwaukee election officials will have only 9 seconds to process each early ballot under the new restrictions.

This week the Governor signed more bad election bills into law. One will allow election observers to stand as close as three feet from the table in our polling places, where they will be hovering over the voting process, compromising voters’ privacy and adding to the stress of our local election officials.

Another new law will make it virtually impossible for many qualified citizens to register to vote, including students and anyone else who does not have a document such as a Wisconsin driver’s license or bank statement with their own name and current address.

The Governor’s signing statement glossed over the impact of this restrictive new law, stating only that it requires clerks to record the type of document submitted as proof of residence. Either the Governor didn't read the amended bill he signed or he wasn't proud of signing it.

Don’t be fooled. These new laws signed by Governor Walker are extreme. Founded by the suffragists who fought for 75 years to win the right to vote for women, the League of Women Voters® knows suppression when we see it. While our 17 local Leagues will educate and assist voters in complying with the new restrictions, we are also looking into all possible ways to reverse these unfair laws, including legal action.

Mar 27, 2014

Scott Walker Signs Bill Slashing Early Voting

Update: See also Cursed With Nation’s Second-Highest Turnout Rate, Wisconsin Restricts Early Voting (Weigel. Slate); and Wisconsin’s Walker restricts early voting (Benen. TRMS), and GOP Steps Up Attack on Early Voting in Key Swing States (Berman. The Nation).

To no one's surprise, Scott Walker signed a bill slashing early voting, outlawing cities from weekend voting.

All Wisconsin Republicans went along with the latest scheme in the attack on voting, except Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center).

A constitutional challenge is likely.

No reaction from Mary Burke, prompting more speculation that another, more activist candidate will get in the Democratic primary.

One Wisconsin Now reacted along with every good government and voting rights groups the same way:

Despite widespread public opposition, Gov. Scott Walker quietly signed into law new restrictions on early voting today. Walker's acquiescence to the latest racist, anti-voter scheme by Republicans eliminates weekend early voting in Wisconsin and outlaws municipalities offering citizens the ability to vote in the two weeks prior to Election Day before 8am or after 7pm.

One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross commented, "Gov. Walker has made his choice. He's put his political ambitions first and turned his back on the constitutional right of Wisconsinites to vote. He is aiding and abetting the fraudulent manipulation of the rules on voting being perpetrated by the Republican controlled legislature."

Early voting has become an increasingly popular way for Wisconsinites to do their civic duty and have a say in the direction of their communities. In fact, 58 Republican legislators who have supported restrictions on early voting have themselves voted early.

The impacts of the law will be felt heavily in urban areas where long lines are a serious issue at the polls and creates significant new challenges for minorities, seniors, working families and persons with disabilities in accessing the franchise.

Walker signed the legislation despite a mere 12% of respondents in a recent statewide poll endorsing the new restrictions on early voting proposed in the bill presented to Walker for his signature.

"This fight is far from over. It may be Governor Walker's signature on the bill today, but this fight will end when a judge signs an order declaring this latest Republican attack on voting unconstitutional," concluded Ross.

Mar 14, 2014

Scott Walker v. Mary Burke—Forfeited by Ms. Burke and the Loser Is Wisconsin

Horse Latitudes - Wisconsin,
you're the horses
Mary Burke has the same chance of being elected governor of Wisconsin as Scott Walker does of becoming the next president of the United States.

I wish to thank Ms. Burke for sticking Wisconsin with Scott Walker for another four years; appreciate this, extraordinary work from the campaign that can't shoot straight.

As anti-citizen bill after anti-citizen bill wafts from the GOP-dominated Wisconsin legislature, Mary Burke decided the prudent communications strategy to employ is that used by Sen. Michael Ellis (R-Neenah), Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Scott Walker: Go dark, be silent and hope no one notices.

Brilliant. I had never even considered doing nothing as a winning game plan.

Yet, the reasoning behind the Burke campaign's lack of action appears unsound.

Of course, there is an opposing view on campaign communications.

For example, when Republicans and only Republicans attack voting (Senate Bill 324) a candidate could actually point this out, repeatedly.

[Note to Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), there is still time to get on the ballot for governor, if only to light the equivalent of a white phosphorus grenade under the Burke campaign's collective ass. (This is a metaphor—met·a·phor [ méttə fàwr ]—for the benefit of the Burke communications team.)]

Another example of Republican chicanery of the most foul, that surely penetrated the brains in the Burke campaign are Senate Bill 300 and Senate Bill 13.

SB 300 helps cancer victims and their families get affordable chemo treatments and is being blocked in the Senate by Republicans after being unanimously passed by the Senate Committee on Insurance and Housing in late January.

Silence emanates from the Burke campaign on SB 300 though likely not because Scott Walker and Republicans get loads of money from the health insurance, finance and real estate industry.

Nationally, this anti-democratic sector gave $129,843,765 to federal candidates since 1990, and is trending Republican fast. Walker's take from the insurance industry and finance sector is well into the $ millions.

Burke's reasoning here is unclear.

Then there's Senate Bill 13 (Senate Substitute Amendment SA1-AB19) that blocks veterans, veterans!, and other cancer victims suffering from Mesothelioma.

Senate Bill 13 passed without comment from Burke.

The thing with cancer survivors and the people who die from it is that cancer—Mesothelioma, Leukemia and too many to list—this condition, this trauma, is what high-priced political consultants and political scientists refer to as: Really bad.

Comforting and pitching in to help a family member or friend dying from cancer is the type of experience that resonates with people, as would the unbelievably callous actions of Republicans and the health insurance industry, if so noted.

Check with your political consultants on this one, Ms. Burke; nevermind, I guess that time has passed.

Mar 12, 2014

Republican Effort to Disenfranchise 100,000s of Wisconsin Voters Began in 2011

Scott Walker's convicted top aides and friends are likely
cheering on Walker and Republicans today.
In 2011, Scott Walker and the Republicans shortened the Wisconsin early voting period by some 18 days, passing Act 23 that limited early voting for all towns, villages and cities to only 12 days. 

Before Act 23, in-person, absentee (early voting) could start when the ballots were printed and clerks received them, providing as many as 30 days of early voting.

Republicans also eliminated early voting on the weekend directly preceding election day in Act 23, passed with sole Republican support.

Now, Republicans today, passed a "bill (that limits) 'early voting' to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday leading up to an election. A municipality would also be limited to 45 hours per week of accepting the in-person absentee ballots," reports Quorum Call.

Republicans in 2011 also extended the residency requirement for voters from ten to 28 days, suppressing the votes of citizens who have recently moved.

Republicans in 2011 also cut the time period allowed for absentee ballots to be cast from 30 days before elections to 14 days.

Republicans' voter ID law, Act 23, has been found to be unconstitutional and is under judicial deliberation in state and federal court.

Now, a host of anti-voting bills is being considered because of the fear Republicans have of voters casting votes. Inaccurately described as preventing voter fraud, these bills are designed to suppress the democratic right of citizens to vote.

No doubt Scott Walker's former staff and close aides, Tim Russell (who embezzled from veterans) and Kelly Rindfleisch (who committed misconduct in the public office held by Scott Walker) are cheering Walker and the Republicans on.

By the way, Mary Burke, you can comment on these matters. If you don't, what does that say about your commitment to defending the constitution? Hello, Mary, Mary?

Wisconsin Republicans Target Veterans and Voters Today

Update III: GOP shafts veterans again. "Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, said the bill presumes that 'somehow the corporations are the victims here, and not the men and women who were willing to put the lives on the line for their country.'" (Quorum Call)

Update II: Republicans slash early voting, no weekend voting, no night voting.

Update: To keep abreast of developments on how Republicans aim to diminish Wisconsin democracy and injure our veterans suffering from Mesothelioma cancer, check out Quorum Call or Wisconsin Eye.

The Republican, gerrymandered legislature is targeting voters and veterans today.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald say he "hates" his colleagues' anti-veterans bill (Wisconsin Senate Bill 13) hurting veterans, therefore he is supporting this anti-veterans bill because "it's just something that has to be done."

This has to be done because the insurance industry, the Koch brothers and other special interests want this done.

Fitzgerald's powers of logic are on a par with our dumb governor Walker.

"Every vets group oppose this bill because it's unfair to vets," said Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison), notes Quorum Call.

Fitzgerald and the Republicans should reject the money they get from special interests supporting this anti-veterans bill, and instead take a heap of asbestos and breathe in deeply, sharing the remainder with the whole Republican caucus except Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center).

Republicans know much of what they will pass is unconstitutional. So, they are also trying to corrupt the judicial process.

Republicans last month took up Senate Bill 154 [replaced by a vague SENATE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT 1, TO ASSEMBLY BILL 161 that is now passed by the legislature] reading in part:

"If a circuit court or a court of appeals enters an injunction, a restraining order, or any other final or interlocutory order suspending or restraining the enforcement of any statute of this state, the injunction, restraining order, or other final or interlocutory order is immediately appealable as a matter of right."

What if a Court orders a trial and temporary restraining order on a GOP-passed statute like Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan did in March 2012 on Scott Walker's unconstitutional photo voter ID law?

Injured Wisconsin citizens get no day in court while an unconstitutional law inflicts damage?

What exactly do Republicans fear from the rule of law, and voters?

Mar 11, 2014

In Nation's Most Segregated Urban Region, Scott Walker, GOP Fan Flames of Racial Violence

Racist T-shirts sold in Milwaukee at the "Republicans
for Wisconsin" booth at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair
Update: Republicans pass voter "suppression effort" mandating poll workers "from those outside a community to dictate how elections are run," reports Quorum Call. Republicans inflict another hit on local control, and insult and inflame the African-American communities in Milwaukee and other urban centers.
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Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans know their objectives in their anti-voter election bills in the state legislature.

It's not only about rigging elections.

Walker and the GOP want to use the nation's most segregated urban area and pass legislation that will plant white election inspectors and obnoxious white election observers from out of the African-American wards in a terribly irresponsible and reprehensible effort to promote violence, confusion and chaos at the polls on election day.

This is what Republicans spend their time doing, Senate Bill 20.

State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) "hates blacks and Latinos" on the floor of the Wisconsin state senate. (Quorum Call. WisPolitics)

Yes. What Walker and the Republicans are doing is sociopathic and certainly hateful.

Carpenter was referring to Senate Bill 20, an opportunity to provoke Milwaukee African-Americans and, Republicans hope, infuse some chaos on election day, a situation that they hope to achieve by repealing early voting, ("push(ed) off (for) a final vote on the measure until (Wednesday)").

The Republicans' I hate you, blacks is intended to met in turn.

It's not enough that the GOP's Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine has already given license for racist whites to kill young black kids. Bo Morrision of Slinger, Wisconsin shot and killed by a white racist protected by the Castle Doctrine in 2012. You can bet Scott Walker cried no tears for young Mr. Morrison.

Walker surrounds himself with racists, all getting laughs from racists jokes told among this tight group.

There will be black observers in Milwaukee on election day, as well civil rights workers from the U.S. Dept. of Justice to help keep the peace in the face of white racists brought in by Walker.

There should not have to be.

This is 2014 Wisconsin, not 1966 Alabama:
Nor had violence disappeared as a form of political intimidation (after the Voting Rights Act of 1965). Poll watcher Andrew Jones, a quiet man who was passionate about voting, was struck in the back of the head while on duty in Fort Deposit, (Alabama) Klan bastion [in Lowndes County as, known "Bloody Lowndes" because of the lynchings, and other murders of blacks]. Stokeley Carmichael went ballistic and, with a California friend named Huey Newton, organized a group of armed blacks to search for Jones's attacker. But they never found him. [(Frye Gaillard, "Notes and Quotes: The Interview for Cradle of Freedom, 2000-2002," 45, Frye Gallillard Papers, Alabama State University; Southern Courier, November 12-13, 1966, 2. Cited in (Bending Toward Justice - The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy (Gary May. Basic Books; 2013; p.233) ]

Scott Walker and Racist GOP Fear Voters; Impede Voting Again

Update: Debating Republicans who want to install election officials to harass African-Americans and Latinos, Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) "hates blacks and Latinos" on the floor of the Wisconsin state senate. (Quorum Call. WisPolitics)That's a fact; Republicans today are racists and depend on racism as a major electoral tool. See, for example, Scott Walker and his staff joking about blacks, Jews and gays.

Against every community of interest except the Republican Party, the Wisconsin state senate is posed to pass along partisan lines a bunch of bills making it harder to vote.

The election of Scott Walker proved people don't matter, Republicans believe; but they want to make certain.

AP writer, Scott Bauer, reports that "Gov. Scott Walker signaled Tuesday that he was open to signing a bill that would limit early voting, including disallowing it on weekends in the two weeks leading up to an election."

Bauer writes:

When asked about the early voting bill following a Wisconsin Bankers Association event, Walker said that it wasn't on his radar yet but he would 'take a look at it' once it clears the Legislature.

'We've got a whole stack of things to look at when they pass through both houses,' Walker said.
Scott Walker is lying as usual. He knows perfectly well what's coming his way.

Walker has threatened to call a special session after Wisconsin's photo voter ID is declared unconstitutional in state and federal court, as is expected.

Walker does not want unfettered access to the polls for Wisconsin citizens disinclined to vote for him in November.

The anti-early voting bill, Senate Bill 324, may pass but don't fret, singling out cities to destroy the votes of those who live in cities is likely to be ruled unconstitutional.

Like restrictive, new qualifications for voting like the GOP's Voter ID, these anti-voting efforts have a way of blowing back on the Republicans.

You're Old and Want to Vote—the GOP Wants to Harass and Stop You

Updated - "For those with a taste for irony, Tuesday’s session of the Wisconsin state Senate will be a rich feast."

A chamber that has again and again tried to take steps to make it easier for rich people and out-of-state corporations to influence politics with their money will consider making it harder for working Wisconsinites to vote." (Nichols. The Capital Times)

Used to be the younger Wisconsin generations showed respect and helped retired folks, elderly folks and especially veterans.

Wisconsin citizens still do, but not the Republican Party that wants to throw barrier after barrier just to make it more difficult for retired folks to vote.

Take a look at Assembly Bill 396—introduced, sponsored and voted for only by Republicans—a GOP effort to make harder to vote; just as the GOP did in its effort to cut early voting, expected to be voted on in the Senate today.

Used to be village and town clerks could send election inspectors out to community-based residential facilities, retirement home, and adult family homes to help folks vote.

Now, the Republicans are targeting this reaching out to help people because the Republican Party doesn't fare well in institutions where people gather to help each other.

The text of AB 396 is so laden with redacted words and paragraphs it looks like rebar before the concrete is poured.

That's because the GOP's AB 396 mandates partisan observers and a host of other rules controlling how municipal election officials are able to facilitate the franchise for the very people who have given the most to our state.

This Republican stunt stinks, as does every other GOP effort to impede voting.

Republicans won't be happy until they are assured only people who vote Republican are able to cast votes.

Mar 10, 2014

GOP Going All-out to Block Wisconsin Voting‏

Sen. Frank Lasee is not working for you
Update: AB 396 passes on an 17-16 vote, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) joining the pro-democracy Democrats.

Update: Look for a constitutional challenge to many of these anti-voting initiatives, for example AB 396: restricting absentee voting by residents of certain adult-care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities by placing unnecessary and burdensome notice requirements prior to the absentee voting process. These anti-voting bills would target and destroy the right to vote of discrete segments of the population in, for example, Agrace HospiceCare of Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Dying of Agent Orange, huh, well you can't vote!

On March 11, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin state senate is set to consider a raft of bills aimed at impeding Wisconsin voters, consumers, and victims of poison and other toxic agents.

Who are the Republicans working for? Not us.

From the AFL-CIO:

Voting rights are under attack in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin State Senate is getting ready to vote on multiple anti-democracy and voter suppression bills on Tuesday, March 11. These bills will promote ‘pay to play’ politics, deny citizens’ access to the ballot and make it more difficult for people to register to vote.

Also, up for a vote on Tuesday are changes to the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex (SB 565). This bill would remove local control over a local institution, a notion that runs afoul to fundamental democratic principles and should frighten communities across the state. 

Republicans in the state legislature are trying to ram these bills through as quickly as possible in the final days of session. Contact your legislator today in opposition of these bills

Anti-democracy bills that will expected to go to vote on Tuesday, March 11 as of March 10, 2014 include:

•    SB 324: Limits early voting hours allowed by municipalities and removes the option of weekend and evening voting leading up to Election Day.  This would end convenient opportunities for working people, the elderly and the disabled to vote prior to Election Day. 

•    SB 267:  Places additional burdens on people who wish to register early and on the municipal clerks who register them by demanding certain documents as proof of residence and that the clerks record 2 or 4 digits of the document account number on voter registration forms. It amounts to an unnecessary hurdle for both voters and clerks.

•     SB 655: Pay to Play Politics -- allows lobbyists to donate to politicians during election years even if session is ongoing.  This allows lobbyist more time to bribe elected officials and unduly influence state policy. 

•     AB 396: Restricts absentee voting by residents of certain adult-care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities by placing unnecessary and burdensome notice requirements prior to the absentee voting process. In addition, all voting at certain adult-care facilities must occur in the presence of 2 election officials, one from each political party. Further, if some residents in an assisted living facility vote absentee at the facility, then all residents must vote by absentee at the facility and are disallowed from voting in the clerk's office or by absentee mail ballot.

*Sen. Grothman has introduced an outrageous bill to end same day voter registration in Wisconsin!   Allowing citizens to register to vote on Election Day makes our democracy strong and accessible.  People who work for a living, move frequently or are voting for the first time can find it burdensome to register to vote prior to Election Day.  In Wisconsin, we have a proud tradition of welcoming all citizens to participate in our democracy.  Sen. Grothman’s attempt to control the electorate and limit the voting population is transparent and disgusting. 

Update on Local Living Wage Preemption:  This bill stalled in the state Senate last week with Sen. Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) stating it is “unlikely that it will move through the Senate.” However, Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) has said he and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) will continue to lobby fellow legislators for support adding that, “in the Legislature you never count on something being dead until session is actually complete.”

There is still time to make your voice heard.  Contact your legislator today in support of voting rights and democracy!

Mar 8, 2014

Sen. Frank Lasee Changes Vote—Wisconsin GOP Attacks Early Voting; Floor Vote on March 11

Sen. Frank Lasee switched his vote;
now backs GOP bill to block voters

Constitutional challenge likely on GOP effort to impede the right to vote for voters living in high-population municipalities. Targeted obstruction of voters remains illegal.

Updated: Sen. Frank Lasee's (R-De Pere) office can be reached at: (608) 266-3512. Lasee claims he is honored to serve his constituents as state senator for Wisconsin senate District One. Give Lasee a call and ask why he wants to make voting more difficult.

Wonder if this attempt to rig election for Republicans is on Scott Walker's "radar." Walker likes to pretend he has no idea what Wisconsin legislative Republicans are doing.

A reader here advises that Lasee's original objection to the bill in committee was based on Lasee's insistence that observers be allowed to be stationed at municipal clerks' offices during early voting hours. GOP observers frequently harass voters and voting officials, a practice that has not gone unnoted by poll workers.
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Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) voted 'No' on a bill attacking early voting in the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs earlier this year, defeating the anti-voting measure in committee.

The GOP bill that Lasee voted against would limit early voting in all municipal clerks' offices around the state to only weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Now, Lasee changed his vote in committee late Friday on an amended bill, Senate Bill 324, with no explanation for his constituents for his vote for an amended bill that bans early voting on weeknights and weekends, and limits early voting to 45 hours a week.

The amended bill limits early voting in all municipal clerks' offices around the state to only weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 7 p.m.

We know why Lasee changed his vote of course; to help Republicans keep people from voting in high turn-out, statewide elections that Republicans tend to lose.

Everyone, and I mean everyone expected Lasee to cave to the Republican Party over his constituents, Lasee is up for reelection in 2014 and the first-term senator is a noted GOP flunky.

A February Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial blasting the GOP bill after the committee defeat reads, "This partisan, anti-democratic bill is far from dead, and we wouldn't be surprised if Republicans try to push it forward before the end of the session. ... municipalities have large numbers of voters, and it makes sense for them to make it as easy as possible for citizens to vote. That should be something everyone can support. Early voting reduces congestion at the polls on election day. We favor extending this important democratic franchise to as many people as possible. If longer hours during the election season help to promote voting, that's a good thing."

After Lasee's earlier 'No' vote, the GOP attack on early voting—most people think Lasee mistakenly voted No on the bill in committee at first because Lasee is not the brightest bulb—looked to go down to legislative defeat 17-16.

Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) had announced his opposition to the bill in late February, then Lasee changed his committee vote on the bill, amended and now worse for voters than the original bill.

The amended bill now looks to pass 17-16 with Lasee's cave. The anti-voting companion bill, Assembly Bill 54, passed on a party-line vote last year. So, the state assembly would need to pass the senate's version.

Notes One Wisconsin Now, under the amended bill: "Municipalities would be barred from offering in-person voting after 7pm on weekdays and could not allow voters access to their state constitutional right to vote for more than 45 hours per week in the weeks leading up to election day. In addition, weekend in person voting would be outlawed killing non-partisan 'souls to the polls' drives oftentimes organized by faith-based organizations in minority communities."

Sen. Schultz (R-Richland Center), the lone GOP voice against the GOP attack on voting, blasted the bill, saying: small-town Wisconsin clerks say "prefer the flexibility they now have and are tired of Madison (the legislature and governor's office) trying to control and tell localities how to do their business."

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross made the following statement about this latest Republican plot to restrict access to the franchise by outlawing most after hours, early in-person voting in Wisconsin:

"Senate Republicans have outdone themselves. Not only have they revived legislation voted down in committee just weeks ago, they managed to make it even worse.

"Republicans are sending a clear message to working families, minorities, seniors and students that their participation in our democracy is not wanted.

"Whatever the bill number this is yet another cynical and shameful attempt to take away rights and manipulate the rules on voting from Republicans seeking to gain unfair partisan advantage for themselves.

"This fight won't be over if Gov. Walker signs the bill, it will be over when a judge rules this obscene attempt to restrict access to the franchise for minority, elderly and working class voters unconstitutional."

Feb 27, 2014

Wisconsin Sen. Dale Schultz Will Oppose GOP Bill Attacking Early Voting

Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz
In a victory for voting rights, Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) announced he will vote against a bill attacking early voting in Wisconsin.

Schultz announced his opposition to AB 54 and Senate Bill 324 through an aide in a phone conversation with Mal Contends this morning, effectively killing the anti-early voting legislation.

Schultz cited conversations with local election officials and small-town Wisconsin clerks who say they "prefer the flexibility they now have and are tired of Madison (the legislature and governor's office) trying to control and tell localities how to do their business."

Schultz also said through his legislative aide that "the party of Lincoln, T.R., Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan has worked to make it easier to vote, and not harder. It's in the traditional Republican vein to help voting."

The bill would limit in-person, absentee voting (early voting) for all municipalities across Wisconsin to the hours of 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday. No observers see the bill as anything but a move against voters to help Republicans win office.

Schultz has criticized the new Republican Party in Wisconsin as captured by extreme special interests, explaining this it why he is leaving the Wisconsin legislature.

Schultz said he will join Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) in voting 'No' if SB 324 comes to a floor vote despite losing in the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs, 3-2 after Lasee's 'No' vote.

As all 15 Wisconsin Democratic Senators are against the bill, Schultz' opposition makes a floor vote on the bill unlikely as it would lose 17-16.

Though many will see Schultz' opposition as a slap in the face of the bill's author, Sen. Glenn Grothman (West Bend), and Scott Walker, Schultz said his vote is based on his district's local officials' preference and the pro-voting history of the traditional Republican Party, as opposed to today's Republican Party that appears intent on controlling local communities.

Feb 26, 2014

Ohio GOP Ends Sunday Early Voting, Wisconsin GOP's Attack on Early Voting Stalled in Senate

Republicans in Ohio hate voting by African Americans who still don't know their place.

So naturally, the GOP Secretary of State has decreed: No voting on Sundays for the entire state of Ohio in an effort to obstruct church-going folks on Sunday from voting. The effort is sure to be litigated.

In Wisconsin, a bill (AB 54) attacking early voting that passed the GOP state assembly on a party-line vote is still in the state senate.

If passed out of the state senate, everyone knows Scott Walker will not pass up an opportunity to scale back voting, ordering all election clerks in Wisconsin cities, towns and villages to make voting available only when Scott Walker and the GOP say so.

But in February the attack on early voting lost in the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs, 3-2. Senate Bill 324 lost in committee but few believe that will stop Republicans if they have the votes to pass the bill.

Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) stood up for democracy and voted No.

Why would someone want to attack voting? Because they are Republicans, a new anti-American breed that simply does not like democracy.

Sen. Lasee is an exception.

Outgoing Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) may also be an exception, as Schultz has criticized the new Republican Party in Wisconsin as captured by extreme special interests, explaining this it why he is leaving the Wisconsin legislature.

Republicans hold a narrow 18-15 advantage in the senate, gerrymandered to elect Republicans. So Schultz' opposition to SB 324 would make the vote 17-16 against stopping early voting in Wisconsin.

Without attacking voting, Scott Walker knows he's in trouble.

Feb 25, 2014

GOP-leaning Justice: 'I'm troubled by having to pay the state to vote"

Justice Patience  Roggensack
In the oral arguments in the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker et al (one of two cases heard today in the Wisconsin Supreme Court) challenging Wisconsin's Photo Voter ID law, Act 23), Justice Patience D. Roggensack took a skeptical tone against Assistant Attorney General Clayton Patrick Kawski in referencing the documentation those without GOP-prescribed ID would have to acquire and the money they would have to spend.

Roggensack appeared incredulous in stating that paying money to the state is necessary to vote.

Here is a transcription of the comment and question made to Assistant Attorney General Kawski defending Act 23 in court:
My concern is that for someone who doesn't have a birth certificate, there has to be a payment made to get that birth certificate [to get a license or acceptable ID and then be qualified to vote].

Now, it may not apply to me, I already have a driver's license. But anybody that doesn't have a birth certificate, it appears from the statute [Act 23] that there's a requirement that they make a payment, and the payment goes to the state.

And what bothers me is that this feels—although not universally as was the case in Harper (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966)) where there was $1.50 poll tax—it's still a payment to the state to be able to vote. That bothers me. Can you address that? ... I'm troubled by having to pay the state to vote.
The two cases heard are League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker et al and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker et al.

Two cases challenging Act 23 are being deliberated in federal court as well, and plaintiffs are seeking an injunction in those cases: Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128) and League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin v. Deininger (Case 2:12-cv-00185).

Don't "Destroy" the Right to Vote, Say Voting Rights Attorneys

Voting Rights Wars Still with Us, GOP Targets Voting

"'My concern is frankly trying to find a way that no one has to pay the state to vote if they don’t have what they need (to vote),' said Justice Roggensack, who often is noted as the leader of the conservative-leaning block of the court." (Heisig. Wisconsin Law Journal)

Updated - Oral Arguments on Wisconsin's Voter ID law today drew aggressive questioning that is typical of justices playing devil's advocate in elucidating the positions of the two sides, pro-voting v. anti-voting.

Make no mistake, Wisconsin Act 23, the Photo Voter ID law, is narrowly crafted to obstruct Wisconsin voters, aimed at sections of the electorate to aide a partisan outcome in favor of the Republicans, at the expense of constitutionally qualified, registered voters.

Such a partisan motive, however did not enter the discussion today, but was implied.

Some observations from viewing today's orals.

Attorney Lester Pines appearing for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker et al, argued that the authority of the state legislature to regulate elections does not include the power to draft legislation determining "who may vote," demanding a situation where constitutionally qualified, registered voters would walk to the polling table and in effect be asked "papers, please."

Pines called voting a "fundamental right," imperiled by Act 23, that was passed on a strict-party line vote within a half year after Scott Walker assumed office.

Richard Saks appearing for the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker et al took a similar position to Pines, noting that zero voter impersonation fraud cases have been prosecuted, while some 10 percent of Wisconsin citizens are estimated not to possess the GOP-crafted, narrow range of acceptable Photo voter IDs under Act 23.

Assistant Attorney General Clayton Patrick Kawski argued for the state of Wisconsin.

Kawski faced tough questioning from Justice Ann Walsh Bradley who said she found that if 10 percent of Wisconsin citizens could not legally vote because of Act 23, this is "breathtaking."

Bradley pummeled Kawski, asking if 10 percent were a "severe enough burden," and a "substantial enough burden" to render the law unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin Constitution in its plain text and as reflected in legal precedents holds a more powerful guarantee of the right to vote than the U.S. Constitution.

In the NAACP, the orals took a more federal direction in jurisprudence, with justices and attorneys citing federal precedents.

Justice Patience D. Roggensack took a strikingly skeptical tone against Clayton Patrick Kawski in referencing all the supporting documentation those without GOP-prescribed ID would have to acquire and spend, sounding incredulous in saying that paying money to the state was necessary to vote. "I'm troubled by having to pay the state to vote," she said. (Marley. MJS)

Justice Michael J. Gableman appeared to this viewer as a vote to uphold the voter ID law.

The Wisconsin Constitution bodes well for pro-voter forces against the Republican Party that has waged a years-long battle against voting, specifically targeting non-GOP demographics.

The pro-voting forces make this point in the Plaintiffs-Respondents-Petitioners' Reply Brief (filed 2/6/14), excerpted below.

Few believe even with a four-to-three GOP majority, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will eviscerate what is the foundation of Wisconsin democracy—the right to vote.

Attorney Pines amplified this argument made in the Plaintiffs-Respondents-Petitioners' Reply Brief:

I. THE VOTER ID LAW HAS THE EFFECT OF DETERMINING I. WHICH QUALIFIED ELECTORS MAY VOTE. THUS, IT IS NOT A LAW THAT  FALLS WITHIN THE LEGISLATURE’S PLENARY AUTHORITY TO ENACT REASONABLE ELECTION REGULATIONS.

A. Because The Legislature Has Limited Constitutional Authority to Regulate “Who” Votes, Defendants Want The Court To Believe That The Voter ID Law Only Regulates “How” Votes Are Cast.

Defendants do not attempt to rebut the League’s argument that the Legislature may not add a qualification to vote, and concede that if the Voter ID law does so, it is unconstitutional. They explicitly concede that the Voter ID law is neither a registration regulation nor a law to implement
the right of suffrage as allowed under Article III, sec. 2.  Brief of Defendants-Appellants (“Def. Br.”) p. 32

Much of the Defendants’ brief is devoted to a discussion of the uncontroverted proposition that the Legislature has plenary authority to enact reasonable election regulations about “when, where and how” elections are conducted. Defendants contend that the law regulates “how ballots are cast” and argue that the Voter ID law is a “reasonable” regulation, no different than a law dictating the form of the ballot or polling hours. Def. Br. pp. 7-16.

Defendants do this because the Wisconsin Supreme Court, for over 150 years, has enforced these basic principles:

  • the Legislature has a limited plenary authority to regulate when, where and how elections are conducted but does not have the plenary authority to determine who may vote, and;  
  • a regulation of when, where and how elections are conducted, if it also touches on who may vote, must not impair or destroy the right to vote.   
Undoubtedly, the Voter ID law determines who may vote. And, even if one were to accept the fanciful notion that the law merely regulates “how” votes are cast, the law is unconstitutional because it impairs the right of qualified electors to vote: 
[Election] regulations are to be subordinate to the enjoyment of the right [to vote],. . . . The right must not be impaired by the regulation. It must be regulation purely, not destruction. If this were not an immutable principle, elements essential to the right itself might be invaded, frittered away, or entirely exscinded, under the name or pretense of regulation . . .  
Dells v. Kennedy, 49 Wis. 555, 6 N.W. 246, 247 (1880) (emphasis added by plaintiff's attorneys)... .

Feb 24, 2014

Wisconsin Voter ID Challenge Hits GOP Law Targeting Who Can Vote

Update: See transcript of GOP-leaning Justice's comment and question: 'I'm troubled by having to pay the state to vote" and Don't "Destroy" the Right to Vote, Say Voting Rights Attorneys.
---
As Scott Walker hides amid the release of emails showing Walker lied, cheated and effectively stole [from the people of Milwaukee County], a major Walker bill targeting citizens voting who Walker perceives to be voting the wrong way will be heard in open court.

Arguments on Wisconsin's Voter ID law are scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in the Madison state capitol at 9:45 A.M.; Tuesday, February 25.

WisconsinEye is tentatively scheduled to live stream the arguments on its website online, and on Charter Cable Channel 995 and Time Warner Channel 363.

Wisconsin's Voter ID law remains enjoined by Wisconsin state courts. The state cases to be heard are League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker.

The Wisconsin Constitution in its plain text and as reflected in legal precedents holds a more powerful guarantee of the right to vote than the U.S. Constitution.

The Wisconsin Constitution bodes well for pro-voter forces against the Republican Party that has waged a years-long battle against voting, specifically targeting non-GOP demographics.

The pro-voting forces make this point in the Plaintiffs-Respondents-Petitioners' Reply Brief (filed 2/6/14), excerpted below.

Few believe even with a four-to-three GOP majority, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will eviscerate what is the foundation of Wisconsin democracy—the right to vote. Look for a 7-0 decision striking down the GOP-crafted law, Act 23.

As Judge Richard Niess wrote in his Decision and Order Granting Summary Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction of Wisconsin Voter ID law on March 12, 2012:

"(A)s a matter of law under the Wisconsin Constitution, sacrificing a qualified elector's right to vote is not a reasonable exercise of the government's prerogative to regulate elections. ... Where does the Wisconsin Constitution say that the government, we, the people, created can simply cast aside the inherent suffrage right of any qualified elector on the wish and promise—even the guarantee—that doing so serves to prevent some unqualified individuals from voting?"

It doesn't. In fact, it unequivocally says the opposite. The right to vote belongs to all Wisconsin citizens who are qualified electors, not just the fortunate majority for whom Act 23 poses little obstacle at the polls."

Plaintiffs-Respondents-Petitioners' Reply Brief:

I. THE VOTER ID LAW HAS THE EFFECT OF DETERMINING I. WHICH QUALIFIED ELECTORS MAY VOTE. THUS, IT IS NOT A LAW THAT  FALLS WITHIN THE LEGISLATURE’S PLENARY AUTHORITY TO ENACT REASONABLE ELECTION REGULATIONS.

A. Because The Legislature Has Limited Constitutional Authority to Regulate “Who” Votes, Defendants Want The Court To Believe That The Voter ID Law Only Regulates “How” Votes Are Cast.

Defendants do not attempt to rebut the League’s argument that the Legislature may not add a qualification to vote, and concede that if the Voter ID law does so, it is unconstitutional. They explicitly concede that the Voter ID law is neither a registration regulation nor a law to implement
the right of suffrage as allowed under Article III, sec. 2.  Brief of Defendants-Appellants (“Def. Br.”) p. 32

Much of the Defendants’ brief is devoted to a discussion of the uncontroverted proposition that the Legislature has plenary authority to enact reasonable election regulations about “when, where and how” elections are conducted. Defendants contend that the law regulates “how ballots are cast” and argue that the Voter ID law is a “reasonable” regulation, no different than a law dictating the form of the ballot or polling hours. Def. Br. pp. 7-16.

Defendants do this because the Wisconsin Supreme Court, for over 150 years, has enforced these basic principles:

  • the Legislature has a limited plenary authority to regulate when, where and how elections are conducted but does not have the plenary authority to determine who may vote, and;  
  • a regulation of when, where and how elections are conducted, if it also touches on who may vote, must not impair or destroy the right to vote.   
Undoubtedly, the Voter ID law determines who may vote. And, even if one were to accept the fanciful notion that the law merely regulates “how” votes are cast, the law is unconstitutional because it impairs the right of qualified electors to vote: 
[Election] regulations are to be subordinate to the enjoyment of the right [to vote],. . . . The right must not be impaired by the regulation. It must be regulation purely, not destruction. If this were not an immutable principle, elements essential to the right itself might be invaded, frittered away, or entirely exscinded, under the name or pretense of regulation . . .  
Dells v. Kennedy, 49 Wis. 555, 6 N.W. 246, 247 (1880) (emphasis added by plaintiff's attorneys)... .

Feb 17, 2014

Suit Against Voter ID Law Hits Obstruction of Military Veterans by GOP

Oh, you're a veteran; 'get lost,' say Republicans
Plaintiff Carl Ellis, a homeless black Milwaukee veteran wants to vote in the future, but if Republicans have their way Ellis and his military service can take a hike because Ellis, in GOP land, has no right to vote!

In an amended post-trial brief in the federal suit Frank v. Walker Post-trial brief challenging Wisconsin's Voter ID Law, civil rights advocates hit Scott Walker and the GOP for "Arbitrarily and Unreasonably Burden(ing) Voting Rights of Veterans ... ."

The amended brief was filed last month.

The brief reads in part:

74
C. Act 23 Arbitrarily and Unreasonably Burdens Voting Rights of Veterans and Technical College Students (Claims/Classes 4 and 6)

Voters are entitled to be free of arbitrary state action, and burdens imposed on the right to vote must be balanced against the asserted state interests.  It is well-settled that arbitrary and therefore “‘invidious’ distinctions cannot be enacted without a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.” Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 30 (1968).

The burden imposed by Act 23 on veterans and technical college student is simply not  “necessary,” Anderson, 460 U.S. at 789, or justified by any “important regulatory interest[],” Burdick, 504 U.S. at 434. The state has articulated no rational basis, much less a necessary or important interest, for refusing to accept secure photo ID issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when it accepts ID issued by the U.S. military, when both are federal documents with voters’ names and photographs, and when both may lack expiration dates. Similarly, no interest was proffered for seeking to block the use of photo ID from Wisconsin’s two year technical colleges, when those IDs have identical indicia of reliability (name, photo, expiration date within two years from date of issuance) to IDs from other Wisconsin colleges.
1. Act 23 Arbitrarily Excludes the Use of VA ID for Voting (Claim/Class 6) After leaving the military, many veterans receive secure VA IDs, with the veterans’ names and photographs, that are used for matters such as obtaining health care from this federal agency. For years Ellis had only VA ID, and Davis and Newcomb still have only VA ID. States like Indiana allow voters to use VA ID, and Kennedy recommended that Act 23 include VA ID, but the law does not do so. (Sec. I.B.2.)

Act 23’s exclusion of VA ID places severe burdens on veterans who have only VA ID, many of whom, Defendants know, are homeless or marginally housed. (Id.) This includes Ellis, who struggled to get a DMV-issued ID for nearly two years, making numerous trips to multiple agencies to get his birth certificate, and ID. (Sec. I.C.3.) Davis, who is unemployed, and Newcomb, a housekeeper also caring for his children who were involved in a serious accident, have tried but not succeeded in getting DMV-issued ID. (Secs. I.A, I.C.1, I.C.2.a.)

At trial, Defendants articulated no state interest, let alone an “important” one, in refusing to accept this form of secure federal ID. Nor did the State articulate any interest in forcing these veterans to expend time and money obtaining a different photo ID to vote, much less a sufficient interest to justify this burden. See Burdick, 504 U.S. at 434 (citing Anderson, 460 U.S. at 788). In prior briefs, the State hypothesized that the lack of an expiration date on VA ID might justify the exclusion. (Dkt. 38 at 21.) But Act 23 authorizes the use of other forms of photo ID without expiration dates, including some military and tribal ID cards. (Secs. I.B.1.d,e.) It also allows the use of DMV-issued ID with 16-year-old photos. (Sec. I.B.1.a.) Thus the exclusion of VA ID has no evident or articulated purpose other than imposing an unnecessary burden on some veterans, or keeping them from voting. Defendants therefore have violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Wisconsin Voter ID Oral Arguments Set for Feb. 25 Before State High Court

Scott Walker faces a major legal defeat in the likely decision
against the GOP voter suppression law, Wisconsin Act 23
As a federal judge in Milwaukee is writing an opinion on Wisconsin's restrictive Voter ID law after the federal trial held last November, two state civil rights challenges to Wisconsin's Act 23 are set to be heard be heard in oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on February 25.

Arguments as scheduled to be heard in the ornate Supreme Court room in the Madison state capitol at 9:45 A.M.; Court room doors open at 9:00 A.M.

WisconsinEye is tentatively scheduled to live stream the arguments on its website online, and on Charter Cable Channel 995 and Time Warner Channel 363.

Wisconsin's Voter ID law also faced a trial in federal court in November 2013.

In federal court, a post-trial brief requesting a federal injunction was filed in December after the trial of two consolidated cases arguing violations of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

A federal injunction and decision against the Republican Voter ID law are expected, as the November 2013 federal trial is regarded by objective observers as a rout for pro-democratic forces against the GOP voter suppression law.

Wisconsin's Voter ID law also remains enjoined by Wisconsin state courts. The state cases to be heard are League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker.

The Wisconsin Constitution in its plain text and as reflected in legal precedents holds a much more powerful guarantee of the right to vote than the U.S. Constitution.

Laws that deny the franchise (right to vote) or make voting so difficult and inconvenient that the laws effectively deny the franchise are presumptively unconstitutional under the Wisconsin Constitution.

The Republican Party in Wisconsin designed Act 23 precisely for the purpose of restricting the right to vote, an anti-democratic political tactic repeated across the country in states where the Republicans control both the governor's office and the legislature.

As daily newspapers across Wisconsin have editorially condemned this practice of Republicans, it is expected the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court [4-3] will rule against the Republican-enacted Act 23 with so much light focused on the Voter ID case.

Facing defeat against its Act 23, Wisconsin Republicans are fast-tracking an attack on early voting, hoping that few notice what they are doing in the legislature.

Feb 16, 2014

Voter ID Protection Act: Here's the Language of HR 3899 Amending the Voting Rights Act

Update: Here's a quote from the official statement (January 2014) of the NAACP's Lorraine C. Miller, Interim President and CEO, NAACP on HR 3899: "The NAACP appreciates that the U.S. Congress has made a bipartisan effort to update the Voting Rights Act, however we have serious concerns about the ability of some provisions in this bill to protect ALL voters from discrimination at the polls.
 
As the nation's oldest and largest grassroots civil rights organization we have the responsibility to ensure that any proposed legislation is in the best interest of our members, our community and our country. Participation in our democracy should be unfettered and all votes should be properly counted. From the exceptions for voter ID laws to decreased preclearance coverage to increased reliance on costly litigation, there are essential revisions and amendments to this bill that must take place to ensure ALL voters have fair and equitable access to the ballot box."
---
Translation: Get rid of this voter ID law protection nonsense or kill this stupid, fracking bill.

From the Library of Congress:
H. R. 3899  To amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act, and for other purposes.
Here's the problem: GOP-passed state laws designed to obstruct voters are specifically excepted as violations of the Voting Rights Act.

If singed into law H. R. 3899 would be the basis of a decision devastating the arguments of League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin v. Deininger alleging violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising Latinos and African Americans.

This is of course Sensenbrenner's objective, protecting Voter ID laws across the country from legal challenge. Here's the bill's language regarding photo identification laws:
SEC. 2. VIOLATIONS TRIGGERING AUTHORITY OF COURT TO RETAIN JURISDICTION.

... violations of this Act (other than a violation of section 2(a) which is based on the imposition of a requirement that an individual provide a photo identification as a condition of receiving a ballot for voting in an election for Federal, State, or local office); ...

SEC. 3. CRITERIA FOR COVERAGE OF STATES AND POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS.

`(3) DETERMINATION OF VOTING RIGHTS VIOLATION- For purposes of paragraph (1), a voting rights violation occurred in a State or political subdivision if any of the following applies: ...

... `(D) The Attorney General has interposed an objection under section 3(c) or section 5 (and the objection has not been overturned by a final judgment of a court or withdrawn by the Attorney General), and thereby prevented a voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting from being enforced anywhere within the State or subdivision, other than an objection which is based on a voting qualification or procedure which consists of the imposition of a requirement that an individual provide a photo identification as a condition of receiving a ballot for voting in an election for Federal, State, or local office. ...
In other words, this so-called Voting Rights Act fix would devastate the legal argument that obstructive Republican Voter ID laws are violations of the Voting Rights Act, and voters are left with GOP justices regard for the 14th and 15th and perhaps the 24th amendments protecting voters against discrimination, an appalling fate in this democracy.

Feb 15, 2014

National Journal: Voting Rights 'Fix' Will Pass Congress; Why It Should Be Vetoed

Updated - The exemption for voter ID laws was written to win the support of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and other Republicans. The legislation strengthens Section 3 of the VRA, which has been described as the Act’s 'secret weapon.' Under Section 3, jurisdictions not covered by Section 4 could be 'bailed-in' to federal supervision, but plaintiffs had to show evidence of intentional voting discrimination, which is very difficult to do in court. Under the new Section 3 proposal, any violation of the VRA or federal voting rights law – whether intentional or not – can be grounds for a bail-in, which will make it far easier to cover new states. One major caveat, again, is that court objections to voter ID laws cannot be used as grounds for “bail-in”under Section 3.) - Sharon McClosky in The Progressive Pulse.

The National Journal's Jack Fitzpatrick has a piece that argues convincingly that the so-called fix to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (and its subsequent reauthorizations) will pass Congress in the wake of its evisceration by GOP justices on the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Shelby County v. Holder.

Major civil rights groups are on board, notes Fitzpatrick, and voter obstruction operative Hans von Spakovsky offers qualified support. The North Carolina NAACP dissents.

And no wonder, the Voting Rights Act contains language protecting the main voter obstruction weapon of the Republican Party, restrictive voter ID laws.

The Voting Rights Amendment (VRA) Act (HR 3899), introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) specifically in Sensenbrenner's words "includes strong, nationwide anti-discrimination protections and continues to permit states to enact reasonable voter-ID laws. Therefore, it prevents racial-discrimination and gives states the ability to address voter fraud."

That there is virtually no in-person voter fraud is of no consequence to the Republican Party.

How does the U.S. DoJ file a Section 3 lawsuit of the Voting Rights Act when language in the fix protects obstructive voter ID laws? And what good is a new Section 4 when voter obstruction statutes are specifically protected?

No legislator in Congress has addressed this question.

"The deletion of voter ID laws from the list of discriminatory violations is a steep price to pay for [GOP] support," reads a NYT editorial.

Not steep, devastating. Not a poison pill, a nuclear bomb aimed at voting rights protection.

The legislation comes as an order and opinion from a challenge to Wisconsin's voter ID law in federal court is anticipated in the coming weeks; and civil rights activists are optimistic that an injunction and a favorable opinion may set a precedent, as well as a favorable opinion from the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. [The two cases are Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128) andLeague of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin v. Deininger (Case 2:12-cv-00185).]

Suppose voting rights advocates do get a favorable opinion from the Seventh Circuit, the Ninth Circuit (Nevada) and the Fourth Circuit (which includes North Carolina and Virginia), does anyone feel as optimistic that a voting rights lawsuit facing the new, proposed plain language protecting states' voter obstruction laws can survive a U.S. Supreme Court with five GOP justices?

Here again is what Sensenbrenner had to say about Texas's voter ID law in August last year: "

This Voter ID law is reasonable?

Voting rights lawsuits appeal to the Fourteenth and Twenty-fourth Amendments, but this Court is not so hot or consistent in protecting rights expansively under these Constitutional protections.

The DoJ has also used Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act against intentional obstruction efforts as in Texas.
(Section 3) is functionally similar to the system the court struck down last month, but Section 3 has several distinguishing features. It does not contain a preset list of jurisdictions, and it is forward-looking: instead of relying primarily on historical evidence of discrimination, it allows individual voters or the government to ask courts to zero in on any jurisdiction, like Texas, that continues to try to impose racially discriminatory voting laws. (NYT. July 28, 2013)