By State Representative, Leon D. Young
The state of Wisconsin has been cited once again as one of the best in running elections.
According to a recently released report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Wisconsin ranked third in the nation, in terms of election performance, behind North Dakota and Minnesota.
The report measures states on 17 criteria such as voter turnout, voter registration policies, average wait times and the handling of military ballots.
Wisconsin did well on most indicators, including the one that tracks what kind of information voters can access online.
The state’s voting website tells voters where their polling places are and what will be on their ballots in upcoming elections, which is vital information to ensure knowledgeable voter response.
Wisconsin’s proficiency at running statewide elections and its overall ranking of 79 per cent, should be viewed as a very good thing, right? But, that’s definitely not the case.
Pivotal swing states under Republican control (like Wisconsin) have embraced significant new election restrictions that are deceptively designed to suppress the vote.
Before adjourning last month, the Republican controlled Legislature sent a bill to Governor Scott Walker to shorten early voting including cutting it altogether on weekend days.
In so doing, Republicans have shifted their strategy away from concern over voter fraud, which have proved largely unfounded, to a new rationale that suggests fairness and uniformity.
GOP lawmakers and some election officials argue that to avoid voter confusion and litigation urban and rural counties should follow the same rules.
This premise is not only ridiculous on its face; it masks the real Republican agenda behind it.
Why is the GOP bent on suppressing the vote in Wisconsin? In truth, Republicans are still smarting over what happened in the 2012 General Election when they were politically embarrassed by President Obama and a liberal Senate Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin carrying the state. Hence, it’s now imperative that they deliver the state this November for Scott Walker by altering the election laws to their benefit.
In terms of voter participation and efficiency, Wisconsin is recognized as a national leader.
Therefore, a cogent argument can be made that since our election system works well and isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it.