One good indication that Wisconsin Republicans are losing the policy battles in the state is the fact that they’ve pushed through a bill that would make it significantly more difficult to vote in the upcoming recall elections. Democrats managed to delay the measure on Tuesday, but the bill will eventually pass, likely on Thursday.
The law restricts absentee voting, lengthens residency requirements and requires state-issued photo ID at the polls. The absentee and residency requirements will go into effect before the recall elections, while the photo ID requirements go into effect next year.
Supporters of the measure insist they are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But those supporters have yet to produce any evidence of widespread voter fraud. A study of the 2008 election conducted by the Wisconsin Justice Department turned up two instances of “double” voting, six people engaged in voter registration fraud and 11 ex-cons who violated the prohibition on felons voting.
Given the fact that the state is purportedly in the throes of a significant budget crisis, spending millions of dollars on a solution to a non-existent problem is questionable at best. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that it will cost at least $5.7 million to implement the law, exclusive of any costs related to litigation challenging the measure.
Instead, proponents of the measure should just call it what it is: An attempt to disenfranchise voters who tend to vote Democratic. Those groups include students, senior citizens, the disabled and minorities. That’s because those groups tend to have fewer driver’s licenses and photo ID’s and would be less likely to make the additional trip to secure the required identification.
The first of the recall elections are scheduled for July 12. Six Republicans and three Democrats face Senate recalls. Republicans currently hold a 19-14 majority, so a net victory of three seats would give the Democrats the control of the Senate.
Which explains why Republicans want to change the rules in the middle of the game.
photo courtesy of kristine_a via Flickr