Friday, February 25, 2011

GOP Overreach-- Koch Bros Have Scott Walker Taking Away Voting Rights From Poor People


Libya's drug-addled dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, is either getting ready for an OK Corral type shoot-out/last stand or is getting ready to fly to Zimbabwe or Venezuela in front of the imposition of a no-fly zone... or, according to one rumor, has already been shot. The powers behind reactionary politicians, like the vampiric Koch Brothers, who have set up dozens of Scott Walkers and John Kasichs around the country to shill for their interests, deserve everything coming Qaddafi's way-- and more.

Earlier in the month, we saw in New Hampshire-- which, like Wisconsin, gave the keys to the car to the corporatist Republicans and their retarded sibling, the teabaggers-- a move to strip voting rights from college students in the state legislature. Yesterday Republican Greg Sorg's bill came under attack from Democrats and students, just as Wisconsin's overreaching legislature went down a very similar path-- taking away voting rights from people they suspect might vote for Democrats. These Republicans are, ironically, Stalinists (and there's a Koch relationship there as well).

Wisconsin Republicans are targeting seniors, college students and minorities with a new law demanding photo ID for voting, although these groups often include people who can't afford photo IDs. Mike Tate, Chairman of Wisconsin's Democratic Party:

"Without honest reasons, with total malice, the Republicans in Wisconsin's Senate today showed that Scott Walker's moment in history is about accruing all power to the state's shameful Republican party, and about nothing else. Not about creating jobs. Not about increasing our freedoms. Not about the better good for Wisconsin. The vote today, when Jim Crow finally came to Wisconsin, is a shameful episode in our state's long march toward progress. Without a single Democrat present, and in the same petulant manner as their godshead, Scott Walker, the Republicans have shown themselves for what they really are, pawns in the Koch Brothers plan to grind the less-powerful in Wisconsin, those working men and women who work for a living, underfoot."

And this morning Tate was still on a role, fuming about the GOP tactics in the state Assembly last night to ram through the union-busting bill Walker is demanding:
"Under cover of darkness, in a practice that Scott Walker denounced while he was campaigning for governor, the Republicans of the Wisconsin Assembly sold their soul. Upending seven decades of labor peace and putting Wisconsin up for sale to the likes of their Koch Brothers masters, they voted to sanction the most divisive piece of legislation in our state's history. Democrats tried bravely, and in vain, to amend this putrid piece of legislation to the benefit of the working families of Wisconsin. But the Scott Walker march to the bottom continues."

In yesterday's Capitol Times, Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of Wisconsin's nonpartisan League of Women Voters, accused Republicans of playing partisan games with the bill.
The Republican members of a Senate committee on Tuesday passed an amended version of the voter ID bill. Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach was present by telephone, but committee Chair Sen. Mary Lazich did not allow him to ask questions or vote. The amended bill could be taken up on the Senate floor this week, although it may have to be stripped of its spending elements.

With all 14 Democratic senators out of state, the Senate does not have the 20-member quorum needed to pass a bill with fiscal impact. Lazich does not see the lack of a quorum as a hurdle. She said the appropriations for implementing the bill can be removed and instead put into the budget bill.

This is double-speak. For weeks proponents of this bill have been downplaying the very significant costs of implementing an ID program. Now they want to pretend there is no cost at all.
There is a reason why 20 senators are needed to pass a bill with fiscal impact-- to protect precious tax dollars from being wasted.

There is also a reason why voter ID is expensive. It is because without certain costly provisions, a voter ID law amounts to a poll tax. Poll taxes were widely used decades ago in Southern states to deny African-Americans the right to vote. Poll taxes eventually were struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. Case law has made it clear that voter ID laws need to make acceptable IDs available free of charge for all eligible citizens who do not already have one. The IDs must be readily accessible to all voters, without undue burden. At a minimum, Wisconsin would likely have to expand the number of ID-issuing offices and extend their operating hours to meet this requirement.

The courts have also made it clear that states must undertake substantial voter outreach and public education so that citizens understand the new law and the procedures for obtaining an ID. In addition, some courts may require states to ensure that all of the documents required to obtain a photo ID are free and easily available. (Brennan Center for Justice, “The Cost of Voter ID: What the Courts Say.”)

Without appropriations for free IDs, training of election officials and voter education, this bill is unconstitutional. There is no guarantee that these appropriations will be approved in the state budget. Ignoring the costs, or pretending they don’t exist, is irresponsible.

Ezra Klein, writing yesterday in the Washington Post chalks it up to Scott Walker-- a cat's paw for the Kochs and their ilk-- trying to "reshape the balance of power in Wisconsin... using the absence of the state's Senate Democrats to pass a law requiring photo identification from voters. Such laws tend to exclude groups of voters who move a lot, don't drive or can't afford the fees required to keep their identification current-- groups that just happen to overlap with traditionally Democratic constituencies. Here's NYU's Brennan Center for Justice on who tends to get excluded":
The impact of ID requirements is even greater for the elderly, students, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and people of color. Thirty-six percent of Georgians over 75 do not have a driver’s license. Fewer than 3 percent of Wisconsin students have driver’s licenses listing their current address. The same study found that African Americans have driver’s licenses at half the rate of whites, and the disparity increases among younger voters; only 22% of black men aged 18-24 had a valid driver’s license. Not only are minority voters less likely to possess photo ID, but they are also more likely than white voters to be selectively asked for ID at the polls.

Labels: , , , ,


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Kay Dennison said...

They already ask for IDs of everyone in Ohio at the polls. Most people have at least have a state ID because it's required to get assistance benefits.

I will be one viral old lady if they try to keep me from voting.

At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Shena said...

Finially...Something is done.
I'm proud of my democrat representation here in Wisconsin.


Post a Comment

<< Home