Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Wisconsin Motto: 'Block The Vote'

[5/5/19 Update - - Some continuing efforts to block the vote barred by the courts. Grothman, meanwhile, has been promoted to Congress.] 

You may remember as the 2012 recall election campaign wound down that Republican Scott Walker told partisans in Waukesha County's Oconomowoc Lake that his re-election would prevent Wisconsin from becoming "another Milwaukee."
But wait, there's a new twist.
Walker's allies in the State Legislature, including State Sen. Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend), want the entire state to have nothing to do with Milwaukee-style rules that allow voter registration and early, in-person absentee voting on weekends prior to elections.
Those are popular options in Milwaukee and some other communities where local officials listened to working parents, seniors with limited transportation and students with classes and/or jobs who said that Monday-Friday-only voter registration and absentee voting hours presented unnecessary and unwanted obstacles.
You'd think a democracy likes ours would choose to serve the customer - - in this case, the voter - - and use governmental resources to make voting easier, not harder, especially since traditional Tuesday elections are already workday events that present restrictions on voters' ballot box access. 
But Grothman, carrying Walker's water, is using government to make everyday people's lives and the voting process more complicated and cumbersome. It's not the first time that Grothman has veered to the fringe.
Grothman had made the absurd claim that voting has broken out  "anytime, anywhere" in cities like Milwaukee to the disadvantage of smaller communities without money to support for longer municipal clerk office hours.
So he's championed a bill to ban pre-election weekend absentee voting hours, thereby also killing voter registration drives that often take place with some churches' cooperation, and to limit the number of hours in-person absentee voting can take place in the two weeks before an election.

In the name of bogus, local-control crushing uniformity. 
His bill passed the Senate Wednesday morning with his entire caucus voting "Yes" - - with the exception of outgoing GOP party conscience State Sen. Dale Schultz, (Richland Center) - - and is guaranteed a Walker, mission-accomplished signature.

Though it passed by one vote - - a ridiculously small margin for such a major and consequential policy shift.
Grothman also wants to end the 30-year practice statewide of allowing new voters to register and cast their ballots on election day. He claims that same day registration makes voting lines longer, though at every polling place I've seen the registrations take place in a separate line.
Grothman's bill to limit early registration and in-person absentee voting will only make election day polling places more crowded and slow-paced, which is part of the plan: gum up the works and people will be discouraged from registering and voting, especially in urban wards with large numbers of eligible (read:Democratic) voters.
Like the voter ID law now tied up in court - - and which Walker so badly wants tweaked and approved as the state's Number One Priority before he's on the ballot again this November - - Grothman's goal is a reduced Democratic turnout to give Republicans a better chance of winning elections which their ideology and policies make difficult.
How better to turn Wisconsin red in presidential years, for example?
Walker said he didn't want Wisconsin to become another Milwaukee.
So instead, Wisconsin will become another Ohio or Florida, where monkey-wrenching the vote put those states in the news as hostile to preserving basic rights, particularly in cities with big minority populations.
Go sell that to businesses, students or young entrepreneurs looking to locate in an open-minded state.


Anonymous said...

Walker's "BOOTS ON THE THROAT" legislators continue to silence the public voice. They have turned state government into that of control by the wealthy and the BIG money special interests. Wisconsin now has a new 1% a mercenary class that now holds court in the governor's office and the legislature. A once proud state destroyed in 3 short years.

Anonymous said...

James: maybe its time for election clerks to take matters into their own hands and ignore the legislation on early absentee voting and simply continue the hours and days they previously used. Maybe the time has come for good old fashion civil disobedience. I suspect they want to get as many people to vote as possible simply as matter of pride in their work. What's the worst Walker could do to them send the Capitol police chief out to handcuff them and take them to the basement for booking?

Anonymous said...

I admire your column and respect your views. You do know that it's for naught right? The right wing is firmly in control here and that will not change. This backwards state is full of people that hate Milwaukee. they hate Milwaukee because they are racist and THAT will never change. The people of this state are backwards, racist luddites that have no ideas to grow the state for everyone. Tax cuts for businesses that barely pay any taxes to begin with. That high speed rail is a symbol. A symbol of everything that is wrong with this state. That blunder all by itself ensures that this backwards state will remain a backwater nowheresville. If you are under 30 and are reading this, get out of this state while you can. Gay bans, hatred of teachers and public servants, a fervent belief in trickle down economics, a punishing attitude towards the poor. (Paul Ryan Racist-Janesville, blaming inner city culture? Really?) The entire media structure is blatant right wing propaganda. There is no hope here. Tiny victories mean nothing, the whole is diseased.

Anonymous said...

Anony 8:19 - what a dark and grim view. Unfortunately, you're entirely correct. I'm not under 30, but I recently moved to a another state. The Wisconsin we knew, proudly, is dead.

Anonymous said...

Where the Repugs have it wrong is the assumption that this will make things uniform. Many (maybe most) small community clerks have other full time jobs and are paid very modestly as a part time clerk. Many have their clerk offices in their homes. They have always routinely accommodated early voters or people who needed to register anytime.... mostly evenings and weekends. Now they will have to close their doors??? at 7 PM, or see people at 7 AM before they go to their own jobs. And turn people away if they aren't available the few hours the voter is able to vote early some evenings. This gets very messy, and not very user friendly. Of course big city clerks will have it the worst, but this will also significantly affect small communities in unforeseen ways. I hope Walker signs it.