Voters in Madison and Milwaukee have reaffirmed the state’s Election Day registration law, with an overwhelming majority supporting the practice in two advisory referendums on Tuesday’s ballot. Allowing voters to register on Election Day has helped Wisconsin achieve one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country — but some state Republicans have proposed rolling back the state’s highly successful law.
Advocates say the vote on the advisory referendum sends a message to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and legislative leaders that election day registration works well and should be retained. Around 82 percent of voters in Dane County (where Madison is located) supported Election Day registration, and 73 percent of Milwaukee voters backed it.
The Milwaukee Common Council and Dane County Board added the advisory referendums to the April 2 ballot after Governor Walker indicated support for ending election day registration in November 2011, followed by other top Republicans, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Students, people of color, and the poor are most likely to register on election day — largely because they are more likely to have moved since the last time they voted — and proposals to end Election Day registration were considered part of the larger GOP push to rig the voting process for partisan gain.
Pew Charitable Trusts recently ranked Wisconsin as one of the highest-performing states in the nation during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, and praised the Dairy State for allowing voters to register at the polls on election day, which has helped Wisconsin achieve the second-highest voter turnout rate in the nation. The other seven states that allow Election Day registration also rank among those with the highest turnout in the country.
In 1975, Wisconsin was one of the first states in the country to allow voters to register on election day, and in recent years others have been catching on: last year, California and Connecticut passed Election Day registration (but the laws have not yet taken effect), and fourteen other states are considering similar proposals this year.
In February, Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board estimated that ending Election Day registration could cost $14.5 million. Walker backed off his support for any measure that cost that much, but Speaker Vos questioned the cost estimate.
Tuesday’s referendum votes are non-binding, but voting rights advocates hope the measure will put the nail in the coffin for proposals to end Wisconsin’s Election Day registration.
By: Brendan Fischer, The Center for Media and Democracy, April 3, 2013
“Overpaid And Underperforming”: Gov. Scott Walker Trusts Teachers With Guns, But Not With Collective Bargaining
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who became nationally known for severely limiting the union rights of teachers and other public employees, has indicated support for arming those same school officials who apparently cannot be trusted to collectively bargain.
As Americans search for answers and policy solutions in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Gov. Walker has apparently decided that the problem is not too many guns — it is that there are not enough.
Giving guns to teachers should be “part of the discussion,” he said on December 19. Walker refused to endorse an assault weapons ban or other limits on the types of guns or ammunition that can be sold.
Teachers Need Guns, Not Unions?
Walker’s infamous Act 10 legislation drastically curtailed the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in the state, prompting months of historic protests and a recall effort. The governor justified the harsh legislation — which he never mentioned during the campaign that installed him in office — largely by demonizing unionized teachers as overpaid and underperforming.
The six teachers killed in the Newtown massacre, all members of an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union chapter, have been widely praised for their heroism, with many shot while trying to shield their students.
“This has kind of pulled the curtain away to show who teachers really are,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told In These Times’ Mike Elk. “Teachers’ instinct is to serve, to protect and to love. And you saw that in full view in Newtown this week.”
For Weingarten, the way to prevent additional mass shootings is not through arming teachers. Unions have historically not taken a position on gun issues, but in the wake of the Newtown massacre, AFT is now taking up support for gun control.
“Teachers lost their lives protecting their kids, lunging at a gunman with an assault weapon. We should be getting guns out of society,” she said.
Wisconsin Site of Two Mass Shootings in 2012, Walker Given NRA Award
Two of the last six mass shootings in the United States have occurred in Wisconsin.
On August 5, a white supremacist killed six people and wounded four others at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, then killed himself during a shootout with police.
On October 21, a man entered a day spa in Brookfield and murdered three women, one of whom was his wife, and wounded four others before taking his own life. The killer had a domestic violence restraining order against him, and despite Wisconsin law prohibiting domestic abusers from purchasing guns, he avoided a background check by purchasing the gun from a private dealer.
But the state’s Republican Attorney General does not think Wisconsin has a gun problem, and Walker and the Republican-controlled state legislature have marched lockstep with the gun manufacturer’s lobby.
In 2011, Walker signed into law a version of the Florida-style “Stand Your Ground” bill implicated in the Trayvon Martin tragedy as well as a new concealed-carry law that allows the public to carry guns inside the State Capitol, even while restrictive access rules prohibit cameras or signs. Legislators are now allowed to bring guns onto the Assembly and Senate floors.
In April, the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave Walker the Harlon B. Carter Legislative Achievement Award, honoring him for passing the “Stand Your Ground” and concealed carry laws. As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, both laws echo American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “model” legislation, and ALEC has been one of the key avenues by which the NRA has exerted its influence over state law and policy.
ALEC is also an organization through which corporate interests have pushed anti-union legislation, most recently in Michigan, where legislators copied the ALEC Right to Work Act almost word-for-word.
But with the latest school shooting prompting unions like AFT to put their weight behind gun control, ALEC now is not the only place where union rights and gun issues intersect.
And unions will not be the only ones to note the absurdity of responding to gun violence with more guns, particularly by putting them in the hands of the same teachers who some public officials believe cannot be allowed to collectively bargain.
By: Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy, December 21, 2012
A Dane County judge has ruled that the anti-collective bargaining law championed by Governor Scott Walker—legislation that would ultimately lead to the failed effort to recall the controversial Wisconsin governor—is unconstitutional under both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions.
While the news will, no doubt, bolster the spirits of Wisconsin unions fighting to regain their collective bargaining rights, they should not allow their hopes to get too high.
The case will, inevitably, end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court where that highly partisan and political body—with the majority firmly in the camp of Governor Walker—is almost a sure bet to overrule the lower rule’s decision.
In the meantime, the impact of the ruling on existing union agreements remains unclear.
While the unions will seek to have the court’s decision take effect immediately, thus clearing the way to a return to the collective bargaining table in the state, the Walker administration will surely seek a stay pending review by the highest court in the state.
In response to the ruling, Governor Scott Walker issued a statement accusing Judge Juan Colas of being a “liberal activist” who “wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process.”
Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader, Peter Barca responded by saying, “This decision will help re-establish the balance between employees and their employers.”
By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 14, 2012
Greg Sargent reports on the decision of five Republican governors to screw impoverished and working people out of the health care they are supposed to get from Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As Sargent explains:
Iowa governor Terry Branstad has now become the fifth GOP governor to vow that his state will not opt in to the Medicaid expansion in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. He joins the ranks of Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Florida’s Rick Scott, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.It’s worth keeping a running tally of how many people could go without insurance that would otherwise be covered under Obamacare if these GOP governors make good on their threat.
The latest rough total: Nearly one and a half million people.
…And counting. Sargent rolls out the breakdown estimates for the five states, with Florida leading the pack with more than 683,000 citizens at risk by Governor Scott’s threat. Sargent adds,
Of course, it’s still unclear whether these governors will go through with their threats. David Dayen and Ed Kilgore have both been making good cases that they will. As Dayen and Kilgore both note, some of these GOP governors are relying on objections to the cost of the program to the states — even though the federal government covers 100% of the program for the first three years and it remains a good deal beyond — to mask ideological reasons for opting out…Dayen rightly notes that the media will probably fail to sufficiently untangle the cover stories these governors are using.
If there is a silver lining behind the shameful threats of the five Republican governors, it is that there is a good chance that their actions will provoke mass demonstrations in at least some of their states, hopefully right in front of the gubernatorial mansions, where possible. And wouldn’t it be justice, if those demonstrations were lead by people with serious health problems, bringing along their oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, dialysis machines and other health care devices, joined by nurses and hospital workers in uniforms for exactly the kind of photo ops these governors don’t want?
Perhaps the key player in mobilizing mass demonstrations against the Republican Medicaid-bashers would be the nurses unions, which did such an outstanding job of making former Governor Schwarzenegger eat crow in CA over staffing ratios in hospitals.
In a way, the five governors are daring sick and needy people to protest against being targeted for health hardships. Given the large numbers of those threatened in these states, it’s an arrogant dare they may regret very soon — as well as on November 6.
By: J. P. Green, Democratic Strategist, July 3, 2012
When Republicans propose cuts to essential public services, Democrats generally respond by accusing their GOP opponents of wanting to fire teachers, police officers, and fire fighters.
These public servants are cherished members of their communities. Anyone who would denigrate them must want a dumber, scarier, and more dangerous society. In other words, as the great Admiral Ackbar once said: “It’s a trap!”
Usually Republicans tend to skip over that particular trap, retreating into blather about debt for the grandkids or overbearing union bosses. What they never do is confess to wanting fewer firemen, policemen and teachers, at least not in public—until Mitt Romney came along.
It all began last Friday, when Romney advisers decided that President Obama had blunderingly delivered a gift to them during a White House press conference. “The private sector is doing fine,” the president had said. Of course he meant that the private sector is doing much better than the public sector – not going as far as many, including Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal, who argue that the private sector actually is doing fine.
Still, Romney’s team practically ignited with glee. They pounced on May’s 69,000 jobs report, although that’s 58,000 more than Bush created on average. (And never mind that economists think Mitt’s plan won’t help and could make things worse.)
So Romney blurted an attack, shouting angrily: ”He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Now we all know that Mitt wants fewer firemen, fewer policemen, fewer teacher. This will help the American people? And this was the lesson of Wisconsin? That’s like being born on third base and thinking the lesson is you hit a triple.
Here are the real lessons of Wisconsin:
- Don’t get outspent 10-to-1
- Start attacking early
- Don’t initiate a recall without a charismatic alternative
- Move to the center
Scott Walker wasn’t only helped by the Citizens United ruling. A loophole in Wisconsin law allowed the challenged governor to raise unlimited donations from individuals. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent only had two months to raise funds and — despite winning most late-deciding voters — he got creamed. Nearly 20 per cent of Obama supporters voted for Walker simply because they disliked the idea of a recall. And Democrats won at least a symbolic victory by taking back the State Senate.
According to Mitt, however, Wisconsin means people don’t want more firefighters, cops, or teachers — an argument too ridiculous even for Walker to endorse. No, Mitt thinks they want more tax breaks for investment bankers and oil barons.
The Republican candidate answered a “gaffe” with a big, loud GAFFE. The President’s campaign should be very grateful.
By: The National Memo, June 11, 2012, @LOLGOP