The incidents of voter fraud, allegations of which ostensibly have propelled voter ID laws, is quite low. But the estimated number of people whose legitimate vote doesn’t count is fairly high, at least in Wisconsin, where an estimated 45,000 people were not allowed to vote in a state carried by Donald Trump by 27,000 votes.
When the measure was challenged in court not long after its enactment, Republicans couldn’t present a single case of voter fraud the law would have prevented.
But there are plenty of cases of suppression that can be shown.
Today, Mother Jones released its analysis of the election, concluding that Republicans rigged the election.
It was obvious before the election results came in last November that the new Wisconsin law was going to keep legitimate voters from being able to cast a vote.
A year ago, for example, DMV offices in Black River Falls, Amery, and Hudson were making it difficult for people to get the ID to which they were entitled.
That situation was repeated all over Wisconsin, according to Mother Jones, which also reported — incorrectly — that were was no media coverage of the problems being caused by the voter ID law.
But it’s difficult to prove whether the DMV employees around the state were simply incompetent in their application of the law — denying people their photo ID without a birth certificate even though there were provisions for such situations — or whether it was intentionally making it difficult for people to vote in the state.
“If voter suppression can work in a state like Wisconsin, with a long progressive history and a culture of high civic participation, it can work anywhere,” Mother Jones said in its story today. “And if those who believe in fair elections don’t start to take this threat seriously, history will repeat itself.”
What’s particularly distressing about Wisconsin’s law is a federal judge — U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson — saw the problem coming while overseeing the law’s implementation. And, though he called it a “wretched failure”, he still couldn’t stop what was happening.
In the trial that Peterson presided over, Todd Allbaugh, a former chief of staff for state Sen. Dale Schultz, a moderate Republican, described the discussions preceding the law’s passage. When Republican legislators debated the bill behind closed doors in 2011, he recounted, state Sen. Mary Lazich rose from her chair, smacked the table, and said, “We’ve got to think about what this could mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses around the state.” Schultz expressed concern about disenfranchising African American and younger voters, but Glenn Grothman, then a state senator and now a member of Congress, cut him off: “What I’m concerned about is winning. We better get this done while we have the opportunity.” Allbaugh testified that at least two other GOP senators were “giddy” and “politically frothing at the mouth” over the bill, including state Sen. Leah Vukmir, the board chair of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which had helped draft voter ID laws in Wisconsin and other states.
“Wisconsin may adopt a strict voter ID system only if that system has a well-functioning safety net,” Peterson concluded, ordering the state to “promptly” issue voter IDs to anyone who entered the ID Petition Process.
The state assured Peterson that voter IDs would be promptly issued and promised a “safety net” was in place. They were wrong, as the survey of the DMVs in Black River Falls, Amery, and Hudson (and 8 others) proved.
It wasn’t just the poor who were prevented from voting. The new law required college students to show an ID with a two-year expiration date. Only 3 of thirteen four-year schools had such an ID for their students.
The alleged voter suppression effort in Wisconsin is now virtually bullet proof. Its beneficiaries are now in charge of the judiciary. Its patrons are running the elections.