Make Voting Easier, Not Harder
Many of my proudest accomplishments as a state representative are bipartisan. There’s nothing more satisfying than coming together, hashing out our differences and passing legislation that makes life better for Wisconsinites.
Unfortunately, there is an ongoing issue that should be bipartisan, but more and more, Republicans are on the wrong side of history - voting access.
The people of Wisconsin highly value our right to vote, no matter what political party. Our state has one of the highest rates of voter participation in the nation. Anyone who has voted here knows we are lucky to have many hard-working and dedicated volunteers and government employees who make sure our elections run smoothly.
And yet, there is a concerted effort by Republicans to lessen civic participation.
Recently, Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL), a conservative group with close GOP ties, sued the Elections Commission to immediately cancel the registration of more than 200,000 voters who did not respond to a mailing from election officials asking if they had moved.
In the past, voter purges like this incorrectly removed many voters who are in fact properly registered, whether because of incorrect data or simply not submitting a timely response (who hasn’t sat on mail too long?). This is why the Election Commission originally wanted to wait until 2021. As a legal brief by the Wisconsin League of Women Voters contends, this purge “likely once again contains a substantial amount of unreliable and demonstrably inaccurate information.” As of right now, this case is pending. [Since this article was published, an Ozaukee County judge found the commission in contempt and ordered the voters to be purged immediately, but one day later, an appeals court halted the decision while it reviews the case]
This begs the question, why are Republicans so eager to remove voters from the rolls? It’s not hard to see who this purge would mostly affect - Democratic leaning voters, such as people of color, students and low-income people. Not to mention, removing over 200,000 voters from the role is pretty astonishing when you consider that Donald Trump won the state of Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes.
This is part of a larger strategy to rig voting in favor of Republicans. The Wisconsin GOP has made sure they stay in power in the legislature through partisan gerrymandering. They made voting more confusing and difficult with Voter ID laws, which they claimed was to combat in-person voting fraud, a problem that simply doesn’t exist. They even attempted to limit early voting.
At the end of the day, this is about sowing confusion and making it harder for those who already struggle to get to a polling station on a Tuesday. There is a national effort to decrease access to the polls, and it’s so the GOP can rig the system and help their team win.
This should not be a Republican or Democrat issue. In my district, Bayfield County, which leans Democratic, and Price County, which leans Republican, would both lose 4.2 percent of the voters from the voter rolls if the purge goes through. Every American adult deserves to exercise their right to vote, and we should do everything we can to protect that right and make voting accessible.
If you need to check your registration, find your polling place, make sure you have the right ID or have any other voting questions, please visit myvote.wi.gov. You can also email me at email@example.com or give my office a call at (608) 266-4690.
I will continue to get the word out, make sure everyone has the information they need to vote. Tell your friends, neighbors and family, no matter what their politics, voting is our most important democratic right.