Sunday, July 24, 2016

254.1 - Good News: win for voting rights in Wisconsin

Good News: win for voting rights in Wisconsin

We can start with some Good News. On July 19, voting rights scored a significant victory in Wisconsin. Which means it only affects one state, but any victory for voting rights anywhere is Good News. July 19 was the day that Federal District Court Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that Wisconsin voters without photo identification can cast ballots in this fall's elections by signing an affidavit swearing to their identity.

The result is that voting rights have been restored to thousands of Wisconsin voters who are not able to obtain the required IDs and would have been disenfranchised.

Wisconsin is one of the states that instituted a requirement that voters show a state-approved phto ID at the polling place in order to be able to vote. This was supposedly in response to an epidemic of "voter fraud" - an epidemic that exists only in the lying PR claims of the right wing, which knows full well it is all lies intended to serve their despicable cause.

How do we know that? Because they have said so. For example, after Pennsylvania passed its voter ID law in 2012, state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai told his fellow GOPpers at a Republican State Committee meeting that the law "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania," a statement met with loud applause.

In the case of Wisconsin, Ari Berman of The Nation reports that when asked why the GOP would carry Wisconsin in November, Congressman Glenn Grothman responded, "Now we have photo ID." Arguing for the law, State Senator Mary Lazich told a closed-door meeting of the Senate GOP caucus that "We've got to think about what this could mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses around the state." The significance of this lies in the fact that in 2012, Wisconsin's black population favored Obama over Romney by, get this, 88 percentage points. Seventy percent of that population lives in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, 18-to-24-year-olds, those populating "college campuses around the state," went to Obama by 26 percentage points.

What's more, a chief of staff for a former GOP state senator said Republicans were "giddy" about making it harder for people to vote.

It's estimated that when Wisconsin's law was passed in 2011, 9% of registered voters - some 300,000 people - did not have the required ID and the state made no attempt to help with that: No money was allocated to educate the public about the law and the non-partisan agency tasked with overseeing Wisconsin's elections was replaced by a six-member board divided equally between Democrats and GOPpers, all but guaranteeing the same sort of political deadlock that has made the Federal Election Commission such toothless a joke. The state DMV is supposed to be issuing the required IDs, but as of last month, it had rejected nearly a fifth of all applicants, 85 percent of them black, Latino, or Native American.

The law was bad enough that in 2011, Adelman ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, he later was reversed by an GOPper-dominated appeals court in a ruling handed down literally just hours after hearing arguments and without citing a single basis for the decision or addressing a single finding Judge Adelman made.

Because of that prior ruling, Adelman could not strike down the law, but he could soften it. And by allowing people without the demanded ID to vote by swearing to their identity, he did just that, ruling that "a safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort."

Technically, the ruling is a preliminary injunction, issued because Adelman found that those arguing for a way for voters without IDs to cast ballots were "very likely" to succeed in their suit.

Legal technicalities aside, the result is that thousands of Wisconsin voters, most of them young or people of color, will now be able to vote this fall despite the continuing efforts of Gov. Scott Walkalloveryou and his reactionary cronies to stop them.

And that is Good News.

Sources cited in links:

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