Showing posts with label Wisconsin voter suppression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wisconsin voter suppression. Show all posts

Nov 18, 2013

GOP Is Even More Brazen in Its Voter Suppression

From Political Strategy Notes:
In his report "Wisconsin GOP aims to scrap weekend voting," Zachary Roth explains "The measure, which passed the state assembly Thursday, would give municipalities two choices for early voting, known in the state as in-person absentee voting: they could offer it either from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays in the two weeks before an election; or at any time on a weekday, but not to exceed 30 hours per week, again in the two weeks before an election...That would mean a reduction in early voting hours for the state's two biggest cities, Milwaukee and Madison--which are also its most important Democratic strongholds...Scrapping weekend voting will hit African-Americans particularly hard, Rev. Willie Brisco, who leads an alliance of Milwaukee churches, told MSNBC..."A lot of people in our community are working two or three jobs, odd hours, having difficulty with childcare," said Brisco. "So the weekend and the early voting reaches a lot of those people."
I worked early voting on weekends as an elections inspector, and the voters are often the elderly, the disabled, and couples with young children, voters reregistering early because they have moved, and people with questions.

In major statewide elections, the lines to register and the lines to vote increase on election day are often long, as the Republicans Party wants.

As for the GOP's other major attack on voting (though there many more), photo voter ID, if two elections inspectors were forced to inspect Photo Voter IDs of each voter, the GOP's proposed new extra-Constitutional qualification to vote would increase each voter's time at the polling table by approximately one minute.

May not seem much but if you have an average of 30 people lining up to vote, the time to vote for each voter is increased by the time each voter ahead of her has to spend at the polling book table, before walking over to vote.

And don't let Republicans tell you Photo Voter ID went well in February 2012, the one occasion it was used. In that local primary election day there were no statewide races, and voter turnout was estimated at some three percent, less in most parts of the state.

Apr 17, 2013

Wisconsin GOP Circulating Eight Election-related Bills

The Wisconsin GOP really wants to solve the problem of voters voting the wrong way.

John Peterson has the story on the GOP war against representative democracy, and I wish this were hyperbole, as the GOP currently is circulating eight election-related bills (memos until April 25), as the party of Scott Walker seems to have forgotten Walker's 250,000 jobs pledge, and instead is focusing on rigging elections.

The GOP bills would, as has been noted around the Capitol, eviscerate local control over elections with a host of GOP mandates onto local communities.

For example, the GOP has long systemically lied about voter impersonation fraud.

Yet, the GOP wants to hit early voting (AB 54) in an effort to impede voters in one bill, though this list of early voters in a given election presents an easily verifiable paper trail, and for a hypothetical voter impersonator an indictable record.

The GOP does not care about voter impersonation fraud (it doesn't exist); it cares about obstructing voters in an effort to grab more power over voters and local communities.

This flurry of GOP control over our local polling places continues a rapacious power grab by the GOP, with little editorial comment around the state.

Currently, eight memos are circulating for more GOP mandates and micromanagement of community control of the polling place. Here's one:

DATE:                    April 11, 2013
TO:                          All Legislators
FROM:                  Senator Mary Lazich
RE:          Co-Sponsorship of LRB−0123, equal party representation at polling places

DEADLINE: April 25, 2013 at 5:00PM

Under current law, polling places are staffed by election inspectors nominated by the two major political parties.  This ensures each party has trusted workers at each polling place in case problems arise.

This bill requires, insofar as practical, each party have representation on each specific job within the polling place for each job requiring two or more people.

Please respond to this email or contact my office at 6-5400 by April 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM to sign on to this legislation.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

Currently, polling places are staffed principally by election inspectors.  Unless
a municipality decides to increase or decrease the number of inspectors, there are
seven inspectors at each polling place.  With certain exceptions, the individuals who
are appointed as inspectors at a polling place are drawn from nominations submitted
by the political parties whose candidates for president or governor received the most
votes in the area served by the polling place at the preceding general election, with
the party whose candidate received the most votes entitled to fill one more position
than the other party.

This bill provides that whenever two or more inspectors are required to perform
a function within a polling place and both parties that are entitled to submit
nominees have done so, the chief inspector must assign, insofar as practicable, an
equal number of inspectors from the nominees of each party.

Mar 11, 2013

Wisconsin State Journal Hits GOP for Voter Obstruction Efforts

The editorial page editor of the Wisconsin State Journal came out with an editorial hitting the Wisconsin GOP initiatives in which "Republicans keep pushing for partisan advantage."

Firstly, good job, Scott Milfred.

Defending the Wisconsin Constitution, Article III, Section 1 ought not to be a partisan exercise as the news and editorial editors of the leading GOP dailies apparently believe.

Still, a few omissions from the State Journal's news and editorial coverage of GOP voter obstruction efforts deserve mention.

1. With respect to the voter GOP's photo identification card legislation, it's misleading to state the legislation is "tied up in the courts."

GOP-crafted photo ID is permanently enjoined from taking effect because it is unconstitutional, and has been found to be unconstitutional by two different judges. No one, who is objective, seriously disputes that the GOP's voter ID is unconstitutional under Wisconsin's expansive right to vote.

Ask any constitutional law professor, besides the GOP's Rick Essenberg.

Nowhere in the editorial is the word Constitution found.

2. Yes, the Republican Party is pushing for partisan advantage. But that's a sterile description for violating the constitutional rights of Wisconsin citizens. This attack on voting is an attack on fundamental rights, the very foundation of the state of Wisconsin. No need for the State Journal's Milfred to let the GOP off so easily. Nowhere in the editorial are the words civil rights found either.

3. Finally, the Republican Party has lied about its mission, objectives, and aims of the voter obstruction program. The editorial again lets off the Republican Party by omitting the fact the GOP's elected officials routinely lie to the Wisconsin people. When someone lies over and over, it follows that the person is a liar. Seems a compelling syllogism. Nowhere in the editorial are the words lie, mislead or misrepresent found either. Corrupt is also strangely omitted.

Nice job. But as the GOP attacks Wisconsin's foundation, and the moment is gravely serious because the four GOP justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court still could render an outrageous ruling upholding the photo ID-obstruction legislation [voted in by the GOP in a straight, party-line vote], I have to give the editorial an B-minus.

Nov 20, 2012

Scott Walker Says He Wants to End Same-Day Registration out of Concern for Poll Workers

Update: Scott Walker said he meant "job creation," not ending same-day voter registration. Poor misunderstood soul.

Scott Walker, it reported in the AP this morning, is floating the idea to ditch same-day voting registration in Wisconsin.

It is not reported that this is another Republican-Tea Party attack against citizens' voting.

Gee, which demographics of voters most often would need to register on election day?

Look, for the corporate press to continue to play dumb on the story.

From the AP:

Walker made the comments as part of a speech he gave Friday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in Simi Valley, Calif., in which he talked in general terms about his agenda for the upcoming legislative session. He did not say whether he would propose doing away with same-day registration, which has been targeted by Republicans in the past.

However, he was critical of the practice that has been cited as a factor in Wisconsin's traditionally high voter turnout. About 70 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots in the presidential election two weeks ago.

"States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems because the vast majority of their states have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13-hour days and who in most cases are retirees," Walker said in the speech. "It's difficult for them to handle the volume of people who come at the last minute. It'd be much better if registration was done in advance of election day. It'd be easier for our clerks to handle that. All that needs to be done."

Sep 25, 2012

Integrity of Game Is Critical

First lady Michelle Obama addresses the
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's
42nd Annual Phoenix Awards dinner in Washington,
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP Photo, Cliff Owen)
Self-deport yourselves from the political process, is the GOP-Tea Party project
The Wisconsin State Journal (AP) and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Jason Stein) ran dumbed-down pieces on the Republican and Tea Party's vacuous claims of massive voter fraud in the last 24 hours.

Both pieces lack the rigor, facts and scope of the Brennan Center for Justice's routine work on the GOP's effort to steal elections by obstructing voters by demanding unconstitutional remedies for a problem invented in the minds of GOP strategists.

And these pieces represent a vast improvement in coverage of the GOP's effort to steal elections by stopping voters—especially the black, brown and homeless-veterans' types of voters.

Self-deport yourselves from the political process, is the GOP-Tea Party project.

Packer fans are rightly outraged by the scab officials' absurd calls on the field that take the integrity out of football and cost us a game last night.

We ought to be similarly outraged by the GOP and Tea Party's efforts to take the integrity out of our democratic system, and obstruct the rights of millions of Americans in virtually every state controlled by the GOP-Tea Party axis.

Aug 22, 2012

Corrupt AG Van Hollen Wants High Court to Reinstate Voter Obstruction Law

The Blind Leading the Blind - Brueghel
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) is betting the Wisconsin corporate media will not hammer the Republican Party for Van Hollen's petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to stay the two injunctions against the GOP's unconstitutional voter ID law.

It's a safe bet for Van Hollen and the GOP to make.

Denying the fundamental freedom to vote does not bring a high political price, not from the corporate media.


So, we get a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece citing "supporters" (not mentioning supporters are Republicans and Tea Partiers) who point out that the new ID requirement did not produce problems in the one election in which it was operative.

Omitted are the facts that this February 21 election was the Spring primary election, with no statewide races on the ballot, very low turn-out, and an election in which the state Governmental Accountability Board (GAB) did not record the turn-out as only local races were on the ballot, as the GAB confirmed.

"The G.A.B. did not calculate statewide voter turnout for the February 2012 nonpartisan primary because there were no statewide races on the ballot – just local races," e-mailed Reid Magney, public information officer of the Wisconsin GAB.

Consequently, the February election featured turn-outs in the single digits, as mostly die-hard voters cast their votes.

This is the election the GOP argues is evidence that Voter IDs do not obstruct voters. Another GOP talking point is presented by the media to the public unchallenged.

In any event, people were stopped from voting in February such as 84-year-old Ruthell Frank of Brokaw, now a co-plaintiff in the federal case, Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128), U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Another example of lame media coverage, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece omits that the voter ID law was passed in the legislature with only GOP votes, no dissenting GOP votes, no Democratic votes, and that the GOP is pursuing similar voter ID laws in states in which the GOP controls the legislature and governor's office.

Political Culture

And of course the Republican and Tea Parties are openly hostile to the right to vote and pay no discernible price for their efforts at stopping citizens from voting.

In March, Van Hollen admitted that Wisconsin voters would be disfranchised by the GOP's voter ID law, so now his petition to make the law operative (staying the two injunctions) before the November election would in a healthy political culture constitute a high scandal against democracy.

We don't live in a healthy democracy.

United Wisconsin's Lisa Subeck slammed Van Hollen's move:

“Putting politics ahead of the law he is sworn to uphold, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is once again moving to disenfranchise as many as 300,000 Wisconsin voters who lack photo ID. Despite two previous court injunctions permanently striking down Wisconsin’s unnecessary and oppressive Voter ID law, today Van Hollen has requested that the Wisconsin Supreme Court immediately lift the orders that prevent the law’s enactment.

Van Hollen’s flagrantly political move comes just a few short months before the November Presidential election. The timing makes his intentions clear. With the selection of Paul Ryan as a vice presidential candidate, Wisconsin is set to be a crucial battleground in the race for President, and Van Hollen is attempting to disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of seniors, students, minority, and low-income citizens who will be disproportionately impacted by this law. Van Hollen’s latest ploy reeks of political gamesmanship, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court should reject it outright.”
Still, Van Hollen's petition is a stretch. And his effort will likely be refused by the Supreme Court. Too naked a corrupt, partisan exercise even in this unhealthy democracy.

Information on the two state cases, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker (Case 11CV4669) and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker (Case 11CV5492) are linked above.

How about Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R)? He championed the 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act, passed to stop state voter obstruction efforts.

No, word from Sensenbrenner's office is he would have no comment anymore on state voter obstruction efforts like Wisconsin's.

Two federal trials on the Wisconsin Voter ID law are set for the Spring 2013.

One Wisconsin Now, a civil rights group, released the following:
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements upon news Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen would petition the state Supreme Court to overturn, in advance of the November elections, Circuit Court rulings that the state’s anti-democratic voter identification bill is unconstitutional.
"JB Van Hollen has spent years, and untold tax dollars, unsuccessfully chasing phantom vote impropriety allegations to justify his support for disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of legal voters. He’s either lying about rampant “voter fraud” or he is incompetent at his job. Van Hollen announced he was going to do this at a Romney-Ryan campaign rally and now he’s using his taxpayer financed office to convince the partisan, conservative Supreme Court majority to do the political thing, not the right thing."
In 2008 as GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s state chair, in coordination with the Republican Party, he used his office to try to purge hundreds of thousands of legal voters from the rolls. And after a six-year partisan witchhunt, Van Hollen has found no instances of voter impropriety that would have been thwarted by voter identification.
Earlier this summer, it was revealed the Republican National Committee was behind anonymous legal efforts to enact the law. A complaint related to state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and his participation in the suit, filed by One Wisconsin Now, is before the state’s Government Accountability Board.

Mar 12, 2012

Wisc AG Admits Voter ID Law Will Stop Legal Voters from Voting

Update II: Appellate Court Refuses to Stay Injunction on GOP's Polling Place Photo ID Obstruction

Update: Second judge finds GOP Voter ID unconstitutional. Judges taking the Wisconsin constitution seriously, raising the question: Will the four GOP state Supreme Court justices?

You have to hand out the chutzpah prize to our corrupt Attorney General Van Hollen.

The Wisconsin DoJ is arguing that the first injunction against the state's Voter ID law should be stayed because otherwise the voters will be disfranchised by the law if the injunction is later overturned.

"If, as we hope, the injunction is overturned before the election, those relying on the injunction may be left without an opportunity to obtain their IDs by the date of the election,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.

Does Van Hollen imply he is waiving the GOP argument that voter IDs do not unduly burden legal voters? He does implicitly.

The GOP and Van Hollen make a habit of trying to suppress Wisconsin voters. In 2008, Van Hollen after consulting with the GOP proposed an exact match of voters' names in bureacracies' databases is a prerequisite to voting, a ridiculous argument that was tossed out of court never to see the light of court again.

In any event, no intellectually honest argument exists for the constitutionality of the Voter ID law. But for Republicans, facts, logic, rights and the law are not the point. Their lot is: Toe the Party line and suppress the vote.

Mar 9, 2012

Ruthelle Frank Reacts to Recent Voting Rights Developments

Ruthelle Frank of Brokaw, Wisconsin fights for
her right to vote against Scott Walker
- Image from the Brad Blog
Ruthelle Frank missed voting for the first time in 60 years last month.

Ms. Frank was unable to legally vote in the February 21 Spring Primary election, disenfranchised from voting in her local school board election in Brokaw, Wisconsin.

Frank is a co-plaintiff who filed suit in federal court to block Scott Walker's voter ID law saying it unconstitutionally burdens the rights of senior citizens, minorities, homeless veterans and others from voting. [Frank v. Walker, 11cv1128, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)]

She is a 84-year-old woman living in Brokaw [and is a member of the Brokaw Village Board] and has been voting since 1948, but would have to pay up to $200 to get a Wisconsin GOP-approved ID.
Reached by phone Friday morning, Ms. Frank offered her thoughts on recent developments in the GOP voter obstruction fights.
"I have been living here 83 years; everybody knows me. We [Brokaw] have 194 people. I maybe could have voted last month illegally," Frank said. "I wasn't allowed to vote legally though, because I didn't have a valid Wisconsin ID. I didn't vote."
As civil rights activists today march from Selma to Montgomery in protest of Alabama's voter ID and anti-immigration laws, Ms. Frank keeps up the fight in Wisconsin.

"My motto is: You don't use what you have, you lose it. But I have never seen treatment like this, what is going on," said Frank. "I'm fighting for everyone who has lost his [voting] rights. This isn't right, it's just plain crazy. Just because we're old, and can't get around like we're young doesn't mean we're stupid and can't think and shouldn't be able to vote."

Asked about GOP criticism of Dane County Judge David Flanagan's temporary injunction barring implementation of the voter ID law while having signed a recall Walker petition, Frank said, "as far as I'm concerned, he has an opinion about Scott Walker and he [Flanagan] has to live his own life, you're not supposed to speak what you believe in?"

Frank whose story was broken by Robert Mentzer last year in the Wausau Daily Herald, sang the praises of old-time journalism, singling out Mentzer.

"I called up Bob Mentzer of the Wausau Daily Herald and told him what was going on; and he just said, 'he's driving over,'" said Frank.

As the state and federal law suits against voter ID laws across the country continue, Frank said she is optimistic and ready for the fight.

"We're going to make it, we're are not going to crawl under a rock. I'm talked to people from California, Washington and even had a relative in Florida call me after seeing me on [Rachel Maddow]. Keep writing and thank you for spreading the story," Frank said.

Mar 2, 2012

Voter Reg Forms Put Voter Obstruction on Display

Wisconsin Voter Registration Form - GAB form 131
Update: The Wisconsin Legislature's webpage on Suffrage, voting, has been changed while under GOP control since 2011 with the following misleading sentence added: "An Indiana statute requiring citizens voting in person on election day, or casting a ballot in person at the office of the circuit court clerk prior to election day, to present photo identification issued by the government did not violate constitutional standards. Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181, 128 S. Ct. 1610, 170 L. Ed. 2d 574 (2008)."

This sentence is misleading for several reasons. 

1. Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008) is a federal case based upon a facial challenge to a state law obstruction voting. Crawford relied upon the weak warrant to vote under the United States Constitution. 

2. The Wisconsin Constitution—the topic of the Wisconsin Constitution's webpage—includes a strong, affirmative right to vote under ARTICLE III, Suffrage.

3. The Wisconsin Constitution is specifies the laws that may be enacted to regulate elections, enumerating the specific conditions under which the qualifications of voters (electors) may be changed by the enacting of laws under Section 2. 

This GOP pretension, a disingenuous political talking point, is hawked by Wisconsin's GOP Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen.
The revised Wisconsin Voter Registration form (at right) used in the first election in February requiring a GOP-approved photo ID shows two facts that complement the new photo ID requirement presented at the voting rolls table.

One, apart from the photo ID requirement, voter registration in Wisconsin is a rigorous process, and includes a mandatory voter signature attesting that under pain of "fine or imprisonment under State and Federal laws," the information provided on a registration form is not false information.

Only after having registered can a voter then proceed to the voting rolls table where he or she presents the GOP-approved voter ID.

28 Days

Secondly, in the same field where a voter attests to true information, a voter must acknowledge that he or she has resided at the given address for at least "28 consecutive days immediately preceding this election," moved up from 10 days by the Republicans.

The significance of this increase in the residency requirement is clear when applied to mobile voting demograhics.

To take 2008 as an example, all residents of UW-system dorms (where students this coming Fall semester move in roughly on August 29-30 as is typical) would have been disenfranchised from voting in the wards of their dorms in the 2008 September 9 primary election. Students moving in off-campus, typically Aug. 14-15, would also have been disenfranchised from voting in their new wards.

This year the Fall primary election is held on August 14.

But when one considers the some 7,240 dorm students at UW-Madison alone, the some 182,000 students on all of the 26 campuses of the UW-System, and the some 382,000 students at the Wisconsin Techical College System, the GOP's 28-day residency requirement's capacity to disinfranchise voters and cause confusion is clear among this mobile demographic that leans Democratic in its voting patterns.

Confusion, frustration, and disenfranchisement are of course the objectives.

Mar 1, 2012

Veteran Calls for Federal Intervention in State Voter Suppression Schemes

Voting Rights Now - 2012
The Brad Blog calls for enforcement of civil rights to knock down state GOP voter suppression schemes such as Wisconsin's put in place to hold down minority voting participation in the "largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era," as charcterized by Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project.

See Ernest A. Canning's New Federal Lawsuit Provides U.S. DoJ Golden Opportunity to Challenge Polling Place Photo ID Restrictions Under Section 2 of Voting Rights Act detailing the new legal complaint, Jones v. Deininger [PDF], filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Feb 23, 2012

The GOP Hates People with Whom They Disagree Casting Votes

Ruhelle Frank of Brokaw, Wisconsin fights for her right
to vote in federal court against Scott Walker.
Because of the state’s new voter ID law,
2012 will be the first year Frank can’t vote.
Days after the first election under Wisconsin's new voter ID law Tuesday, a federal complaint need not make a facial (on its face) challenge to Wisconsin's voter obstruction, stop-nonexistent-voter-impersonation-nonsense statute. See the Brennan Center's: "future (federal) 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."

But it won't mater.

The Wisconsin ID law is so blatantly unconstitutional that I think even the corrupt 4-3 majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will have to enjoin the law as voting in Wisconsin is extremely well-protected under Wisconsin Constitutional law, and upholding the law would cause GOP justices to look even more foolish than they do now.

So, in both state and federal court, we are looking good.

I worked the polls Tuesday as an election inspector, and I had to reject an Army Reserve ID that did not include an expiration date.
- Before getting into revealing how foolish Republicans are on this issue, note that before you vote, you have to register to vote; see Wisconsin Voter Registration Application. To register to vote you need to establish who you are, and where you are (residency) with government and employee IDs, leases, utility bills, bank statements, etc; and if you have a driver’s license you need to register with your driver’s licence. In addition, you need to sign the voter reg. form stating that you are aware that falsification of any information is a Class 1 felony in Wisconsin. That’s before you can vote. … Then, you have to present a GOP-approved ID that Republicans say, is intended to stop rampant voter impersonation at the polls. Not one case of voter impersonation in Wisconsin has been prosecuted going back decades. -
One women left Tuesday before she voted because she felt the registration process was too intrusive, and it is. She had been purged from the voting rolls through a clerical error and so had to re-register.

A election inspector colleague, a Republican, said he didn't believe college and tech students, the elderly and black voters in Milwaukee were denied the right to vote.

I told him about a research report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute showing that over 177,000 elderly persons in Wisconsin aged 65 and older do not possess a driver's license or state photo identification.

"No," he said. They must have IDs to receive "their Social Securty checks," he said triumphantly.

Tell that to 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper and 86-year-old Darwin Spinks (ThinkProgress).

Factually incorrect, but never use facts and logic in speaking to die-hard Republicans—it's not their thing. Should have ignored him.

Ruthelle Frank, 16 co-plaintiffs and the ACLU are filing suit in federal court to block the law saying it unconstitutionally burdens the rights of senior citizens, minorities, homeless veterans and others from voting. [See Frank v. Walker, 11cv1128, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)]

Finally, another federal lawsuit against Wisconsin's new voter identification law by the Advancement Project was filed Thursday on behalf of several groups who say it discriminates against African-Americans and Latinos. ... three other lawsuits are all pending. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP filed a lawsuit each in Dane County Circuit Court. The American Civil Liberties Union have also filed a federal lawsuit. AP
In closing, this question has not been anwsered: Why didn't Scott Walker get together in 2011 with the League of Women Voters, civil rights groups and other communites of interests and say: We're crafting a Voter ID bill, but we do not want legal voters to be stopped from voting. What can we do stop impersonation at the polls while ensuring the legal voter reflects the uncontroversial Wisconsin constituional doctrine:

"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, article III, section 1] Wood v. Baker, 38 Wis. 71: (August 1875)] Wisc. - Wisconsin Supreme Court

Dec 13, 2011

84-Year-Old Wisconsin Woman Takes on Scott Walker in Voting Rights Suit

Ruthelle Frank of Brokaw, Wisconsin fights for
her right to vote in federal court against Scott Walker

As State Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Eagle River) proposed legislation stating birth records should be free if needed for a voter I.D. in Wisconsin, an 84-Year-Old woman [and member of the Brokaw, Wisconsin Village Board], who has been voting since 1948, would have to pay up to $200 to vote in the next election under Scott Walker's voter obstruction law in Wisconsin.

Forget it, Scott Walker.

So, Ms. Frank, 16 co-plaintiffs and the ACLU are filing suit in federal court to block the law saying it unconstitutionally burdens the rights of senior citizens, minorities, homeless veterans and others from voting. [See Frank v. Walker, 11cv1128, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)]

Ms. Frank is asking the Court to find the Voter ID law unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and violative of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment outlawing payment of a poll tax as a precondition to vote.

By Joe Sherman at the ACLU

Out in the Cold at Age 84: Wisconsin’s Ruthelle Frank Fights for Her Right to Vote

Ruthelle Frank, a resident of Brokaw, Wisconsin since her birth in 1927, has none of the accepted forms of photo ID under Wisconsin’s photo ID law which goes into effect at the February primary election. In order to get a state ID card, she needs to prove citizenship, but since she was born at home, she has never had a birth certificate. The state Register of Deeds, however, does have a record of her birth and can produce a birth certificate at a $20 cost. There’s one problem though — her maiden name (Wedepohl) is misspelled in the record. That record can only be amended by legal proceeding, and the combined fees will run Ruthelle potentially upwards of $200. The state will not waive any of these fees, and under the new law, if she cannot obtain a state ID card, Ruthelle will be sent away from the polls.

If you lost all your IDs and personal documents in a fire today, could you prove who you are? What if there was an election coming up and your state required you to present photo ID in order to vote? Could you figure it out in time? Do you know where to go? What forms and documents you need? Do you have the time and money to get it all done?

In Wisconsin, it takes at least 3 types of proof to get a state ID card that can be used to vote. For most people, the combination of required documents is a certified copy of a birth certificate, a Social Security Card, and some proof of residency like a utility bill or government mail. But it takes ID to get ID. And, in some cases, it takes (A) ID and/or money to (B) get the ID required to (C) get the ID you actually need to vote. This obstacle course is leaving eligible voters discouraged and disenfranchised.

Some photo ID proponents have repeatedly argued that the only people who lack photo ID are those who don’t vote anyway. False. Ruthelle, a sitting member of her village board, has voted in every election since 1948, the year in which Truman signed the Marshall Plan and NYC subway fares jumped from 5 to 10 cents. She is a longstanding participant in this democracy. And sadly, her story is in no way unique — every day, eligible voters are finding out that, under current law, they will not be able to vote in 2012 or will face numerous and significant hurdles on the road to making their voice heard. At age 84, Ruthelle is now serving as the lead plaintiff in the ACLU’s constitutional challenge to Wisconsin’s photo ID law. She’s fighting back because she believes no person should have to pay a cent or pass a bureaucracy-navigation test in order to vote. The U.S. Constitution agrees with her.

Ruthelle’s disfranchisement is horrifically unjust, but she’s actually better prepared to deal with this than many voters without accepted photo ID, who are disproportionately low-income, elderly, and/or minority, and disproportionately marginalized. Despite Ruthelle’s physical disability (she is paralyzed on the left side of her body), she has family that can assist her, savings, education, and familiarity with both the electoral process and local government. Consider the eligible Wisconsin voter with few contacts, low or no income or savings, and much less education. Is that person any less a citizen of this country? That voter is at risk of losing his/her voice in Wisconsin and everywhere in the U.S. that photo ID laws have been enacted. But maybe you’d reply that most people have photo ID in America. Well, the Ruthelle Franks of the world want you to know that “most people” isn’t a democracy.

Read more on the fight against voter suppression.

Oct 8, 2011

Wisconsin Poll Workers Falsely Told Voters: Expired Drivers' Licenses Mean No Voting

Long lines, confusion, errors mark dry run of Republican voter suppression law, just as Republicans intend

League of Women Voters issues new report.

MADISON: The League of Women Voters yesterday presented to state election officials a report on findings from a citizen election observer program. The initiative placed poll watchers in all eight of the state senate districts that had recall elections in August.

The League, in concert with other nonpartisan groups, recruited and trained more than 130 volunteers to observe the general recall elections conducted in August 2011. The League’s report summarized observations from 94 polling locations located in towns, villages and cities in the eight senate districts.

“The League was motivated by concerns about the implementation of Wisconsin’s new election law. There was insufficient time before this summer’s elections to train local election officials and voters themselves about the very significant changes in election law. Our observers were looking for problems related to the new law as well as best practices in administering elections in the new environment,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network.

Most election law changes were in effect in August, including a new residency requirement of 28 days (up from 10 days) and a requirement to sign the poll book before receiving a ballot. There was also a “soft implementation” of the new voter ID law, requiring poll workers to ask citizens to show an official photo ID, but not requiring voters to show an ID in order to obtain a regular ballot. Voters who did not show an eligible ID were to receive information about what kind of ID will be required for voting beginning in 2012.

The vast majority of observers were impressed by the diligence, knowledge and professionalism of the Chief Inspectors and poll workers they observed. However, they found some problem areas that need to be addressed before the 2012 elections, including:

• In almost a quarter of polling sites, officials were inconsistent in asking voters to show ID. This is in violation of the law. It is critically important to treat all citizens equally.

• Some voters produced photo IDs such as fishing licenses and employer IDs but were not informed these documents would not be valid as voting IDs in 2012. With the new law, Wisconsin has the most restrictive list of acceptable photo IDs for voting in the nation. If you do not have a valid Wisconsin driver license or state ID, check with your municipal clerk or the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for other options.

• In several polling places, voters were incorrectly told to re-register if the address on their photo ID did not match the address on the poll list. In fact, it is not necessary for registered voters to have their current address on the official photo ID they use to obtain a ballot for voting. However, in order to register to vote (if you are not already registered) you will have to show proof of current residence. There is a somewhat broader list of documents that may be used for voter registration.

• In at least 4 locations, people were incorrectly told they would not be able to vote in 2012 if their driver license was expired. Actually the new law allows for licenses that have expired after the date of the last general election (November 2010).

• In at least 6 locations in different municipalities, the names of people who claimed they had voted at that location in either November 2010 or July 2011 were not on the voter lists. This demonstrates the need for Election Day Registration, which allows citizens to register at the poll on Election Day if, for any reason, their name is not on the voter list.

• Observers in 17% of polling sites noted problems experienced by disabled voters with the new requirement to sign the poll book. There are provisions in the law exempting the disabled from this requirement.

• Showing ID and signing the poll book slowed down the process and resulted in long lines in most locations for at least part of the day. This was true even in places that had not had this problem in previous elections. People waited in line in some locations up to an hour, and some voters left before being able to cast a ballot. To reduce or cope with long lines, some local officials drafted city workers to be additional poll workers or recruited observers to greet voters and direct them to the right line.

“It is clear that many municipal clerks will need to hire more poll workers for future elections because of the new requirements. This is an unfortunate and unneeded expense for local governments at a time when municipal services are being cut to save tax dollars,” Kaminski said.

The League made the following recommendations for election officials to prepare for the high turnout elections in 2012:

1. Provide more and better training for local election officials about the changes in election law.

2. Provide clear signage in polling places, showing citizens where to register to vote and where to check in and receive a ballot.

3. Split the poll books – one the first half of the alphabet and one for the second.

4. Hire more poll workers and assign one official to greet voters, answer general questions and direct them to the correct line.

5. Plan for glitches. Hold an election “dry run” to help anticipate what the problems might be and prepare to address them.

Read a copy of the League’s election observers report.

Sep 27, 2011

Wisconsin Republicans afraid of students' voting

After passing their voter suppression bill aimed at suppressing the vote of non-GOP constituencies, the GOP is not happy with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB).

Republicans want a special legislative committee overseeing state agency rules to examine the Board’s rules because suppressing votes is the aim of the GOP. The GAB is acting in contravention to that suppression goal in issuing a new opinion this month favorable to students' voting.

Colleges and universities encouraging students to vote? Not if the Republicans can help it.

From WISC:

Two opinions issued this month by the state board that oversees elections in Wisconsin is drawing the scrutiny of Republican legislative leaders.

They called a meeting Tuesday of a special committee to review the action of the Government Accountability Board.

The board issued an opinion that said colleges and universities could put stickers on identification cards and still be in compliance with requirements for the IDs to be used for voting.

It also issued an opinion saying it's OK for a form used to gather signatures to recall an office holder to be circulated online.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and his brother Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald say they want to ensure that the board's actions were appropriate and nonpartisan.

Sep 24, 2011

A Voter ID Reality Overlooked

No, you don't
Update: So strong is the franchise to vote in Wisconsin that attorney Lester Pines noted in orals before the Wisconsin Supreme Court that even mandating registration of voters had to be accomplished through a state Constitutional amendment first enacted in 1882. League of Wisconsin Women Voters v. Scott Walker.

As challenges to Wisconsin's voter suppression law [polling place ID] proceed, one startling aspect of the debate is not from the GOP spin machine, rather the lack of examination on how the law would operate in our system that most certainly does preserve the integrity of elections in scrutinizing voters.

Register to vote

This is because before you vote, you have to register to vote; see  Wisconsin Voter Registration Application.

To register to vote you need to establish who you are, and where you are (residency) with government and employee IDs, leases, utility bills, bank statements, etc; and if you have a driver's license you need to register with your driver's licence.

In addition, you need to sign the voter reg. form stating that you are aware that falsification of any information is a Class 1 felony in Wisconsin.

That's before you can vote.

Photo ID

Now, in addition to these residency and registration requirements, the GOP voter-id-at-polling-place law then adds a layer of obstruction for voters, mandating only GOP-proscribed photo IDs must also be presented when voting. [see bottom]

Not a problem for most of us.

But those not fitting the GOP proper-voter bill such as disaffected veterans, low-income, mobile students, and the homeless, and significantly many black folks in Milwaukee County, would be refused at the polls; their franchise is not enough.

Rick Esenberg, the GOP's go-to guy on voter suppression, even says as much about the current registration requirements [which many registrants find invasive] telling "the Journal Sentinel he believes the courts would consider the ID law an extension of residency and registration requirements." [Crockett]

An "extension" that has been carefully worded when the GOP rejected input from the League of Women Voters and civil rights groups in hatching its voter scheme passed with no Democratic support.

The GOP objectives are modest: Suppress the total vote; make the voting experience insulting to the casual voter. This way, real Americans, white, single home-owning Americans, can cast their ballot and have their votes counted.

You can't get around the Twenty-fourth Amendment outlawing poll taxes, but you can keep this fact of no polling taxes very quiet, as Chis Larson, Wisconsin state employee fired for blowing the whistle on the Voter ID Poll Tax, will tell you.

As John Nichols writes, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation head directs DMV employees "to refrain from actively informing the public about the ability to receive a free identification card for the purposes of voting."

Going to the polls, Wisconsin "[c]itizens face a higher burden. They must either pay for their ID or they must work their way through a bureaucratic maze expressly designed to deny them information about the fact that they have a right to a free ID."

This is a classic poll tax structure. While the law on the books may suggest flexibility, the implementation of the law has been designed to erect barriers to voting by those who cannot afford the fee."

Ernest Canning writes, "The coordinated, nationwide GOP voter suppression effort was aptly described by Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, ... as 'the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era.'"
Wisconsin Government Accountability Board - Acceptable Photo IDS
•A Wisconsin DoT-issued driver license

•A Wisconsin DoT-issued identification card

•An identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed service

• A U.S. passport

(Identifications above must be unexpired, or if expired, have expired after the date of the most recent general election.)

•A certificate of naturalization that was issued not earlier than two years before the date of an election at which it is presented

•An unexpired driving receipt issued by Wisconsin DoT.

•An unexpired identification card receipt issued by Wisconsin DoT.

•An identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin

•An unexpired identification card issued by a Wisconsin-accredited university or college that contains the following:

-- Date of Issuance

-- Signature of Student

-- Expiration date not later than two years after Date of Issuance

Sep 8, 2011

State Employee Fired for Sending E-mail Affirming Voter IDs Should Be Free

Voter Obstruction
Scott Walker regime fires state employee for alerting other employees Voter IDs should be free, by law

By Sly in the Morning

Chris Larsen, a Limited Term Employee with the Department of Safety and Professional Services, was fired from his job this morning, moments after emailing DMV workers to make them aware of the Free ID policy, which is a requirement under the new Voter ID bill in Wisconsin.

Funds have been earmarked to cover the expense of the free ID program, even though the bill is really only a Republican means of suppressing the vote.

Listen to the podcasts, the first being the early morning topic Thursday, which inspired Chris Larson to take action against DMV officials who don't support Free ID's.

Aug 27, 2011

A Poll Tax by Another Name

"Since January, a majority of state legislatures have passed or considered election-law changes that, taken together, constitute the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Having fought for voting rights as a student, I am especially troubled that these laws disproportionately affect young voters. Students at state universities in Wisconsin cannot vote using their current IDs (because the new law requires the cards to have signatures, which those do not). South Carolina prohibits the use of student IDs altogether. Texas also rejects student IDs, but allows voting by those who have a license to carry a concealed handgun. These schemes are clearly crafted to affect not just how we vote, but who votes."
- John Lewis, a Democrat, is a congressman from Georgia

Aug 23, 2011

Challenge to GOP Voter Suppression in Wisconsin

"The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund is preparing to challenge Wisconsin's new Voter ID law based on the state constitution. As a nonpartisan organization that encourages participation in government, the League is concerned about the many eligible citizens who will be disenfranchised by the new law. The League is working with Attorney Lester Pines of Cullen, Weston, Pines, and Bach to challenge the legislature's authority to enact the law."
- Press Announcement, August 23, 2011

See also:

Jul 26, 2011

Mordecai Lee—A descent into hollow reasoning

Mordecai Lee, Prof of Gov Affairs
'That 's sort of what this fight in Wisconsin is all about.'

The Rachel Maddow Show featured a superb guest host in Melissa Harris-Perry Tuesday night. 

Unfortunately, no one warned the host or her producers about Mordecai Lee, professor of Government Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Lee was a guest on a segment about Scott Walker's voter suppression-voter ID-close-the-DMV-offices. [Walker has now reversed himself on DMV closures, after facing political backlash for disenfranchising Voters]

Lee is notorious for, and let's be honest, acting like he is a dolt.

He's not. But Lee's commitment to veering into nihilism should the rational method indict the Republican Party is infamous.

A la the Washington Post editorial page, Lee pretends to believe that facts, logic and data show that all political parties are the same; and holding any one party accountable for its lies is missing the insight Lee has on the American political process.

Enlightening the viewers of the Rachel Maddow Show, Lee offers that in Wisconsin, 'Partisan politics is a contact sport.'


An indignant Melissa Harris-Perry asked Lee about Scott Walker's closing down DMV offices right after signing the Voter ID law in an effort to make voting more difficult.

Lee said of Walker's DMV scheme: That's a "smooth move."

Asked if Republicans stand a chance in Wisconsin unless they make these draconian Voter ID laws, Lee responds with blather.

So, Harris-Perry presses him, asking Lee for comment on the lower-d, democratic value of obstructing rather than facilitating voters.

Here was Lee's great chance to tell the world that both major political parties are equally guilty of betraying democracy, national and Wisconsin Republican voter suppression programs aside.

Lee did not disappoint.

Said Lee: Since the civil rights movement era, "Every argument about enfranchisement or disenfranchisement has really been about partisan advantage. I don't necessarily think the Democrats have just, purely clean hands. Every party wants to gain an advantage. Democrats want lower-income and younger people to be able to vote. That 's sort of what this fight in Wisconsin is all about."

Got that? Republicans are engaged in a massive voter disenfranchisement scheme; but Democrats do not have "clean hands" because they want to enfranchise voters. Both parties are mere analogues of each other in the strange logic employed by Mordecai Lee.

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.