Monday, January 7, 2019

Scott Walker's legacy: Voter suppression

Scott Walker's voter suppression legacy

Passage of the controversial law, which has been discussed by Republicans for more than a decade, means those charged with enforcing it have just under two months to develop and implement the training needed to handle polls in the coming recall elections. “This will be a huge undertaking, to get everything and everybody ready,” said Diane Hermann-Brown, Sun Prairie city clerk and president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association. “We still have questions about how this will work.”

The Wisconsin law, one of the strictest in the nation, was enacted in 2011 but had been mostly blocked by various courts. It requires prospective voters to show a current or recently expired Wisconsin driver’s license or a similar identification issued to people who do not drive, a military ID, a United States passport, a tribal ID, a recent naturalization certificate or some Wisconsin student IDs. 
The state said the law was needed to combat voter fraud. But cases of impersonation at the polls are very rare.

But Wisconsin has now made these types of drives much more difficult to organize. A new law signed by Gov. Scott Walker in March limits ways that volunteers can help people register. The state will soon be emphasizing an online voter registration system, which will require people to already have approved state IDs. 
Critics fear the law will make it impossible to go door-to-door to register voters or set up registration tables in high schools, college campuses or at events like the Farmers’ Market. This could leave thousands of low-income people, students, transients and people of color unable to vote, they fear.

By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn't have proper identification. But it is not hard to find the Navy veteran whose out-of-state driver's license did not suffice, or the dying woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient -- or Harris, who at 66 made her way to her polling place despite chronic lung disease and a torn ligament in her knee.

That means out-of-state students and students with no driver’s licenses at those schools must get a second ID card from the university as well as a Voter Enrollment Verification letter proving they are enrolled in school. 
These extra steps were by design: A former GOP staffer testified in 2016 that some Republican senators in a closed session were “giddy” about the prospect of voter ID suppressing votes by Milwaukee residents and college students, both of whom tend to vote Democratic.

Other legacy posts:
The first 3 chapters:  environment, transportation, corrections.
Chapter 4:  Wisconsin families can't afford basic necessities edition.  (12/12/2018)
Chapter 5. Scott Walker's shameful legacy: The black-white high-school graduation gap edition.  (12/12/2018)
Chapter 6. Scott Walker's shameful legacy (the higher education edition).  (12/13/2018)
Scott Walker's legacy: Taking credit where no credit is due.  (1/7/2019)
Scott Walker's legacy:  Not telling the whole story.  (1/7/2019)
Scott Walker's legacy: Gliding over the disparities.  (1/7/2019)

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