Voter Suppression Laws On Trial In Wisconsin

A lawsuit was brought in federal court by One Wisconsin Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, and six individuals over measures that were implemented by the Republican Party to restrict voting in the state.

Dr. Barry C. Burden, UW-Madison Professor of Political Science and Director of the Elections Research Center, gave testimony at the hearing about a report he wrote on multiple changes in voting in Wisconsin. He said that the changes disproportionately “impact Blacks, Latinos, young people, and Democrats”. He also said the changes likely violate the federal Voting Rights Act and commit early voting resources unfairly. So minority groups get hit twice.

One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross said the testimony shows “Voter ID and the rest of the election law changes perpetrated on voters by Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP were about giving themselves an unfair advantage by suppressing the votes of groups like minorities.”

ALEC has also had a hand in this. The organization has reportedly been excited about the potential for bringing about voter suppression. The ALEC agenda promotes the use of oppressive photo ID or proof of citizenship. Recall the words of ALEC founder Paul Wyrech “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

ALEC also passed a Voter ID model bill in 2009 to spread to all states after Indiana’s Voter ID law was upheld by the Supreme Court. Voting rights have been under attack ever since.

Senate elections committee Chair Mary Lazich claimed the law was meant to prevent voter fraud. But according to a leaked source she and other Republican senators were hopeful the Voter ID law would stop some Democrats from voting. Consider this quote from Senator Glenn Grothman (now a U.S. Representative) – “‘What I’m concerned about is winning. You know as well as I do the Democrats would do this if they had power … so we better get this done while we have the opportunity.”

The leaked source also said that Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and then-Sen. Randy Hopper, (R-Fond du Lac) were “giddy” and “politically frothing at the mouth” at the thought of the law succeeding. Vukmir is the national chair at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

And there is not even any evidence of voter fraud in the state that would require such changes. But the law has been having the predicted effect in certain areas of the state, in than the number of people voting has decreased.

A ruling by the federal court is expected by the end of July.

If the judge’s ruling is appealed, the 7th Circuit Court in Chicago will hear the appeal. One of the judges who sits on the 7th Circuit Court conditionally approved a Voter ID law in Indiana, but has since changed his position. In 2014, this is what he said about Wisconsin’s Voter ID law:

“There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.” More specifically, photo ID laws are “highly correlated with a state’s having a Republican governor and Republican control of the legislature and appear to be aimed at limiting voting by minorities, particularly blacks.”

See:  Voter Suppression Measures on Trial in Walker’s Wisconsin


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