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Scott Walker Doesn’t Want You to Vote
Posted on Apr 2, 2014
By the 1990s states generally expanded voting and absentee balloting, and again consensus prevailed with bipartisan support. But the Republican Party, aided and abetted by the money and influence of the Koch brothers and Karl Rove’s advocacy organization, now openly opposes and seeks to reverse nearly four decades of broadening and improving access for the electorate.
In the 2004 presidential election only five states had a photo ID law, but in each voters could sign an affidavit at the polls attesting to their eligibility. Two years later, Indiana enacted a “strict” photo ID law, requiring voters to present a photo ID without exception. A number of states fell into line and in 2013, six passed strict laws, bringing to 19 the number of states with photo ID laws, 11 of them being strict. Unquestionably, plentiful evidence demonstrates that the laws have burdened the poor, the elderly, the disabled, ethnic and racial minorities, and people often without the financial or physical resources to cope. People without cars typically don’t have driver’s licenses. While states often will provide free birth certificates, many people have no idea where to find them. A recent study found that 6 percent of whites do not have a photo ID, but for African-Americans, the rate is 25 percent. The study also found 16 percent of Latinos, 18 percent of the elderly and 18 percent of young people, 18–24, similarly had no photo ID. Finally, lower-income people were at a 50 percent rate. (See the policy paper by Catherine M. Flanagan and Estelle H. Rogers, “Photo ID Laws.”)
Challenges against the new voting laws have erupted in virtually every state, and in numerous federal courts. In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of an Indiana law requiring a photo ID. But five years later, Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding that law, recanted, arguing that the Indiana measure was “a type of law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” Posner noted, “One wasn’t alert to this kind of trickery, even though it’s age old in the democratic process.” Quite a reversal by so prominent a jurist.
Posner went on to believe that judges simply did not have enough facts at their disposal. They had no indications that “requiring additional voter identification would actually disenfranchise people entitled to vote.” He credited his dissenting colleague, Judge Terence T. Evans, with being absolutely right. At the outset of his opinion, Evans said, “Let’s not beat around the bush: The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.” There is every possibility that Posner will get another bite of the apple if and when there is an appeal from a now-pending lower court case in his jurisdiction.
The Republicans’ professed motivation to eliminate voter fraud has been unmasked as totally empty in virtually every case. The leading scholarly study by Lorraine C. Minnite, “The Business of Voter Fraud” (2010) concludes voter fraud allegations are “unsupported by evidence” and have “no basis in fact.” The Wisconsin legislature had focused attention on in-person voter impersonation fraud, but Minnite found only one such case where a husband voted on his wife’s absentee ballot after she died. Minnite concluded that other types of voter fraud were so rare that their incidence is “statistically zero.”
A stopped clock is right twice a day. Alas! There is voter fraud in Wisconsin, but not from African-American or Hispanic voters—and Democrats are in no way involved. A GOP operative, Marcie R. Malszycki, a legislative aide to state Rep. Warren Petryk, a Republican from west central Wisconsin, has been charged with two counts of election fraud for allegedly voting in Petryk’s district while she is a homeowner in Madison. The felony charge carries a possible sentence of up to three and a half years of a combined prison term and extended supervision. The alleged fraud is said to have occurred in 2008 and 2010, while she was on unpaid leave from her legislative job to work on political campaigns. Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board has said that under state law a person who moves for a temporary purpose is not eligible to vote in his or her temporary domicile.
Malszycki’s guilt is apparent, but the district attorney decided to let her off easily, dismissing one count and allowing for “deferred prosecution” on the other. In days of unbounded social media, Malszycki posted her votes in her temporary home on her Facebook page. At least she cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment to plead her right to refuse self-incrimination. “Voter fraud” is alive and well in Wisconsin, ironically committed by a Republican.
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