Van Hollen continues to lead charge for voter suppression

Recent national study shows racist overtones against Blacks with Voter ID laws

Compiled by Courier Staff

J.B. Van Hollen

Despite the fact that two Wisconsin judges have ruled against the Voter ID law that was initiated from Gov. Walker’s administration’s first early days in office, State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to step in and review the rulings. He wants this to be done in time for the November presidential election.

The two judges in Dane County each separately ruled the law was unconstitutional. One judge said it created a “substantial impairment of the right to vote” guaranteed by the state constitution.

The state’s highest court has already declined once this year to intervene and overturn rulings by the two circuit court judges at an earlier stage in the cases. Now, the GOP attorney general is asking the court to reconsider.

The Supreme Court is expected to eventually take these cases, but it is unclear if it will do so before an appeals court has ruled on them or in time for the November election.

Van Hollen and Voter ID supporters continue to make the claim that restrictive measures are needed for voting in the state, but the numbers have never backed these claims of rampant voter fraud. In fact, the argument doesn’t even stand up on a national level. Voter ID is Voter Suppression, and that is what provoked the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera to file a lawsuit against the law.

In this state case in March, Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan issued an injunction temporarily blocking the law because the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their arguments. Flanagan made that injunction permanent in the 20-page decision he issued in July. That case is now before the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Waukesha. Another Dane County judge, Richard Niess, permanently blocked the voter ID law in March in a case brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

That case is now before the 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison.

In March, following the Dane County judges’ rulings, Van Hollen asked that a court of appeals considers both cases to get a quick resolution to them in time for the June recall. The appeals court sent the issue on to the Supreme Court, which declined the next month to take it up.

Now Van Hollen is asking the Supreme Court directly to take both cases now in separate appeals courts and quickly consider them together.

Van Hollen’s actions are placing Wisconsin in a category that sends Civil Rights activists and those who value the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into a area of thought that a recent independent study states:

“Voter identification laws is strongest among Americans who harbor negative sentiments toward African Americans”.

This key revelation came out of a new National Agenda Opinion Poll by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication. The survey findings support recent comments by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has portrayed a Texas photo ID law now being challenged as similar to poll taxes used in the Jim Crow era, primarily by Southern states, to block African Americans from voting. Holder pledged to oppose “political pretexts” which, he said, “disenfranchise” African American voters.

The national telephone survey of 906 Americans was conducted by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication from May 20-June 6, 2012. Research faculty David C. Wilson and Paul Brewer supervised the study, as states and the federal government confront the voter ID issue.

To assess attitudes toward African Americans, all non-African Americans respondents in the poll were asked a series of questions. Responses to these questions were combined to form a measure of “racial resentment.” Researchers found that support for voter ID laws is highest among those with the highest levels of “racial resentment”.

The survey reveals strong partisan and ideological divisions on racial resentment. Republicans and conservatives have the highest “racial resentment” scores, and Democrats and liberals have the lowest; Independents and moderates are in the middle.

In addition, Democrats and liberals are least supportive of voter ID laws, whereas Republicans and conservatives are most supportive. The link between “racial resentment” and support for such laws persists even after controlling for the effects of partisanship, ideology, and a range of demographic variables.

“Who votes in America has always been controversial; so much so that the U.S. constitution has been amended a number of times to protect voting eligibility and rights,” said Wilson, the center’s coordinator of public opinion initiatives and an expert on race and public opinion.

“It comes as no surprise that Republicans support these laws more than Democrats; but, what is surprising is the level at which Democrats and liberals also support the laws.”

CPC researchers found an interesting pattern in the data: it is Democrats and liberals whose opinions on voter ID laws are most likely to depend on their racial attitudes. Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly support voter ID laws regardless of how much “racial resentment” they express. In contrast, Democrats and liberals with the highest “racial resentment” express much more support for voter ID laws than those with the least resentment.

Activist Rev. Al Sharpton recently spoke on Voter ID/Suppression while in Los Angeles to the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper. He said, “The voter suppression that we are witnessing through the voter ID laws and ending early voting are designed to re-introduce Jim Crow to the electoral process. This is the most serious threat to voter rights that we have seen in 47 years since (President) Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, and one of the reasons that National Action Network (NAN) and I are committed to turning them around – these laws – and to have people prepare to fight for this, is that it could not only cost us this election, it could cost us our right to vote period.

“And we are galvanizing around the country because this is a serious fight and it will not only determine if (President) Barack Obama would be reelected, but it will also determine whether we remain a significant part of the electorate. People need to understand the seriousness of this issue.”

“Actually voter suppression is the latest ruse in a series of acts that have reared its ugly head since 2008 since President Barack Obama won the election. Those acts include, but are not limited to, the birther movement and the tea party, and now the subtle suppression of voters’ rights in the form of voter IDs.”

“There is no doubt about it; it is a continuation and an extension of the tea party and others who want to turn back the clock. It is also an attempt for them to eliminate our voting strength. They can have a fight without our hands being handcuffed behind our backs.

And I think a lot of us are sleeping through the most significant challenge to our being able to protect ourselves that I have seen in a long time. We must have a sense of urgency and a sense of crisis about this.”

An NAACP report titled ‘The Hidden Swing Voters: Impact of African Americans in 2012’ revealed that due to a significant increase in voting, African Americans tipped the 2008 presidential election outcome in the swing states of North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Florida. Part of Rev. Sharpton’s job is to re-energize the electorate as was done in 2008.

He continued, “They must be energized even more than (they were) in 2008 to continue to fight … we cannot win one round and think that the fight is over. They (the right wing) started the night of the inauguration … they started planning how they were going to undermine the President and all of us. Many of us celebrating the inauguration for a year while they were plotting and the results are: we lost the House of Representatives to the right wing. We cannot afford to lose any more elections because of the principles and the interests that we represent… and we certainly cannot afford to not have the right to vote.”

Wisconsin cannot afford to be associated with such racist overtones that come out of the Voter ID laws, especially in the aftermath of a time where White Supremacists are in the rise.

The recent tragedy in Oak Creek demonstrates that racism in any shape or form is detrimental.