By State Representative, Leon D. Young
There is a new legislative campaign gaining momentum in the state Assembly, if enacted, would be another serious blow to open Democracy in Wisconsin.
The omnibus initiative, introduced by State Representative Jeff Stone (R-Green Bay) places new limits on one of the core tenets of the democratic process – the ability to cast one’s ballot.
The proposed legislation makes a number of draconian changes. More specifically, the bill contains the following provisions:
• Early voting hours would be restricted to 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, with weekend voting allowed in only limited circumstances.
• Municipal and school officials could face recall only if they were charged with a crime or municipal violation.
• In an attempt to reinstate voter ID law, poor people would be able to cast ballots without showing an ID if they signed a statement saying they could not afford one.
• Ballots would be thrown out if voters did not sign the poll book.
• Those registering to vote would have to show a hard copy of their proof of residence, rather than displaying it on a smartphone.
Republicans are never shy about promoting themselves as diehard patriots.
However, their actions and public policy purport a far different reality. As history has shown time and time again, the GOP does considerably better at the polls when voter turnout is scant.
Midterm and spring elections are prime examples of this fact.
In truth, there are far more people who are either Democrats or lean in that direction than there are Republicans.
Consequently, Republicans must employ one of two strategies, in order to improve its political chances at the polls. It could do some real soul-searching opt to amend its caustic public policy message that many consider divisive, or simply try to slant the rules to their political advantage.
Obviously, Republicans have opted for the latter. This elections bill is nothing more than a blatant attempt to disenfranchise a certain demographic (urban poor) in Wisconsin that the GOP finds to be reprehensible and problematic. It should be no surprise that states that have same day registration, or no registration requirements, have a higher voter turnout than the national average.
Minnesota and Wisconsin fall into this category, and ranked one and two, respectively, in voter turnout in 2012.
Denying or making it more difficult for individuals to cast their ballots isn’t patriotic — it’s blatantly un-American. Moreover, it speaks to the epitome of the GOP hypocrisy.