This spring, Milwaukee County voters will have a choice to fill the County Executive seat vacated by the election of Scott Walker to the Governor’s Office. State Representative Jeff Stone (Greenfield) has thrown his hat into the ring, promising to create jobs in the area. But this legislative session, one of Representative Stone’s major goals is to pass a proposal to change Wisconsin’s voter registration laws.
Wisconsin has a proud tradition of providing easy voting access to its citizens by allowing same day registration at the polls. These laws have previously been protected by leaders both Republican and Democratic and have led to some of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation.
Now, Representative Stone wants to eliminate the cornerstone of easy voter access, same day registration. It is no coincidence that those who will be hit the hardest by such a change are populations such as seniors, college students and African Americans, and these populations tend to vote Democratic rather than Republican.
Such changes take us back from our current, open elections, to a system that actively suppresses the electorate in a manner not seen since the age of Jim Crow.
This proposed legislation also comes at quite a steep cost. In the past, similar bills relied on a surplus in the state’s transportation fund, which now finds itself $90 million in deficit. Wisconsin can’t afford to fund a program that serves only to secure power for the Republicans.
Wisconsin’s tradition of ensuring maximum voter participation is one we can look at with pride. It is a shame that Representative Stone does not see it that way.
When we think about our county leadership, do we really want to elect someone who wishes to disenfranchise communities of color because they vote for a different party? How will Jeff Stone then treat such communities as his constituents?