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“A Problem That Doesn’t Exist”: Walker Struggles To Defend Wisconsin Voting Restrictions

Wisconsin’s voter-ID law is such a fiasco, it’s hard not to wonder sometimes how anyone could defend it. In a debate on Friday night, Gov. Scott Walker (R), who fought to impose voting restrictions before his re-election bid, made his best case.

Walker said that the voter ID law, which the U.S. Supreme Court just blocked from being enforced, is worthwhile if it stops one person from fraudulently casting a ballot.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s one, 100 or 1,000,” Walker said. “Amongst us who would be that one person who would like to have our vote canceled out by a vote that was cast illegally?”

This isn’t a good argument, but it’s important to evaluate in the context of the Republican “war on voting” in general.

Walker realizes that there are no documented incidents in modern Wisconsin history of a voter committing voter fraud, at least not in a way that could be prevented by a voter-ID law. The Republican governor also realizes that independent estimates suggest more than 300,000 legal, eligible Wisconsin voters could be disenfranchised by this voter-ID law, which addresses a problem that doesn’t exist.

But note the calculus Walker makes: disenfranchising 300,000 legal voters is a price he’s willing to pay to ensure that one – not one percent, just one literal individual – fraudulent-but-hypothetical vote isn’t cast. Wisconsin’s governor is prepared to create the worst election-related chaos in the nation, on purpose, regardless of the costs or consequences, if it means one individual who might cast a fraudulent vote is prevented from doing so.

If this is the best argument Walker can come up with, voter-suppression proponents really need to come up with new talking points.

Of course, I should mention that the governor’s defense is, at least for now, a moot point. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s ridiculous law last week.

That said, Walker’s administration, and Wisconsin’s Republican state attorney general, are still looking for ways to impose this and related voting restrictions in this year’s election.

This is no small matter for the governor’s personal prospects – polls show him in a very tight race against challenger Mary Burke (D), and if Walker can disenfranchise 300,000 voters, his odds of winning improve. In other words, the Republican incumbent has a strong incentive to prevent many of his constituents from voting, and he continues to look for new ways to make that happen.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, october 13, 2014

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Scott Walker, Voter Suppression, Wisconsin | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Break In The War On Voting”: Republican Hostility To Voting Rights Is The Problem

In case you were wondering if Rand Paul’s three-day revolt against the War on Voting his party is waging was either stimulating or might reflect a moment of glasnost on the subject, MSNBC’s Zachary Roth has some cold, cold water for you:

Paul’s walk-back is the inevitable result of some much larger trends. It’s not just that polls show voter ID remains popular—though that’s undoubtedly affecting the picture. More important is the GOP’s strategy for winning elections. For all the talk about the need to court Hispanics, the reality is that the easiest short-term path to victory for Republicans is to double-down on their advantage white voters, and work to make the electorate as white as possible. That means restrictions on voting—which hit blacks and Hispanics hardest—are likely to be a page in the party’s playbook for a while.

It’s no coincidence that some of the most important presidential swing states—Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, and North Carolina—have been the sites of the fiercest voting rights battles. Republicans know that without most of those states, they could be shut out of the White House for decades.

Nor is it a surprise that the list of Paul’s potential rivals for the nomination includes Republicans, like Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich, who have led the way in blocking access to the ballot. Not a single GOPer in the 2016 conversation has opposed voter ID—including Paul.

The Republican National Lawyers Association—the closest thing there is to an official GOP position on voting issues—is certainly showing no signs of retreating. Not only does the group defend voter ID as zealously as ever—it even opposes a recent recommendation from a bipartisan presidential commission to expand early voting.

The GOP’s approach to the Voting Rights Act is even more revealing about the direction it’s heading. In 2006, the overwhelming majority of Republican lawmakers joined with Democrats to reauthorize the landmark civil rights law. But Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, has so far failed to get party leaders to sign on to legislation to fix the law after it was weakened by the Supreme Court last year—even though it contains a special carve-out for voter ID, designed to win GOP support.

I would add that despite all the talk (abating lately) of Republicans needing to change positions, strategy and tactics to look less hostile to minority voters, you almost never hear Republicans admitting that hostility to voting rights is part of their problem. That may have been Rand Paul’s most important heresy: even bringing the subject up. Bet that won’t happen again.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 15, 2014

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Republicans, Voter Suppression, Voting Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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