It’s time to expand voting rights in Wisconsin

Jon Richards

Jon Richards

Wisconsin has a rich tradition of high voter participation in elections, consistently leading the nation voter turnout.

In November, 2012, more than 73 percent of eligible voters across the state cast a ballot, second only to Minnesota.

In the City of Milwaukee, turnout exceeded 85 percent.

We all should be proud that the people of Wisconsin actively participate in our democracy at such high rates and do everything we can to protect our sacred right to vote. Every citizen should be able to vote.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Legislature, with the support of Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General JB Van Hollen, are attempting to suppress voting and making it harder for Wisconsin residents to cast a ballot.

Just this month, they passed a new law to make it much harder to vote early, especially in the City of Milwaukee.

Reducing early voting is not just a question of convenience.

It creates a new barrier to voting for many working Wisconsin citizens.

In addition, recent proposals to eliminate sameday registration would make it harder for renters, students, and new voters to vote.

All of these voting restrictions are in addition to Voter ID legislation that could disenfranchise tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents.

In many cases, people will actually need to pay the state to obtain documents necessary to cast their constitutionally protected right to vote. That’s wrong.

In the rare, isolated cases of voter fraud, when someone tries to vote twice or vote when not eligible, we should actively prosecute these offenders.

But there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin.

Wholesale changes to voting laws, designed to make it harder to vote, disenfranchise thousands of times more people than voter fraud.

Rather than reducing early voting, we should make it easier to vote on weekends and evenings, and in more locations.

And no legal Wisconsin voter should ever be turned away because they cannot afford an ID card or because their ID card doesn’t match arbitrary requirements.

Too many Americans have died for us to cast ballots in free elections, and it’s shameful to play these kinds of political games with our right to vote.

It is time for Wisconsin voters to reject the attack on our voting rights and restore the independence lacking in government for the past few years.