Immediately after taking power in Wisconsin, the Republican party has launched an effort to make it harder for people to vote, especially low income individuals who are the least likely to have drivers licenses. They are pushing for both a law and an amendment to the state Constitution to require a photo ID to vote. From Swing State Project via the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
Wisconsin’s photo ID requirements would be among the strictest in the country. All but two states with photo ID requirements – Indiana and Georgia – allow voters to cast ballots without showing IDs if they sign affidavits, according to the Pew Center on the States. The bill here is modeled on Indiana’s law, Leibham said.
The bill would allow most voters to get ballots only after presenting a Wisconsin driver’s license, Wisconsin ID card or military ID card. The IDs would need to be valid, but they would not need to have a current address.
In addition, Wisconsin Republicans are also looking to eliminate the process of same-day registration.
Wisconsin is one of nine states that allow voters to register at the polls, which observers credit with boosting voter turnout.
Momentum is building among Republicans to eliminate the practice. Leibham said he supports getting rid of it, and Stone said he is open to the idea.
The official reason for these changes would be to stop “voter fraud”, which is acually extremely rare. It is impossible not to conclude that the real goal for the Republicans is to unnecessarily make it much harder for traditionally Democratic-leaning groups like young, urban, and low income individuals to exercise their constitutional right to vote. These groups are the least likely to have up-to-date local drivers licenses.
An outrage against small “d” democratic principles
This cynical move disgusts me as a believer in small “d” democratic principles. The goal of our democracy should be to increase participation as much as possible and make it as easy as possible for everyone to take part in our government “of the people, by the people.”
Instead of winning over these voters through outreach, results, or a more popular platform, the Republican party in Wisconsin is just going to try to stop them from voting altogether.
From a purely political level, it shows that the Republican party is clearly focused on long term planning.
While I truly despise this as the worst form of political gaming, it does show that the Republican party values long term planning. The second they gained power in Wisconsin, they moved to cement that power through underhanded means. They are willing to accept some short term outrage in exchange for a long term advantage.
This is a reminder that the Democratic party just doesn’t have the same commitment to the long game. When Democrats had full control of Congress, there was not a “Help Americans Vote Act” providing grants for states to run same-day registration or vote by mail programs. Even worse, Democrats failed entirely to enfranchise the roughly 600,000 mainly Democratic voters in the District of Columbia. They didn’t even try to push for DC statehood when they had a chance and allowed giving the district a voting member of Congress to fail due to partisan infighting.