April 6, 2016

Republican voter suppression exposed

By: Sen. Lena C. Taylor

With a slip of the tongue on Election Night, one man single-handedly admitted what we all know to be true; Republicans passed voter ID to keep you from voting.

On April 5th at a Republican Election Night party, Congressman Glenn Grothman’s deplorable admission when asked why he thought Republicans would win Wisconsin in the upcoming presidential election will shock you. He said, “…And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well." 

I was stunned when I heard it. It didn’t surprise me that he thought voter ID would suppress enough Democratic votes  to make the difference in a presidential election. But it did surprise me that he’d actually said it out loud… to a reporter… on camera.

On Election Day, I shared a post from a former Republican Senate staff member Todd Allbaugh on my Facebook Page (SenLenaTaylor). For the full version, check out my Facebook page. Here’s just the first few sentences of what was said from a man who was in the room to hear the “private” discussion about the motives behind voter ID:

“You wanna know why I left the Republican Party as it exists today? Here it is; this was the last straw: I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP Senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters…”

Yup, you read it right. Behind closed doors, Senator’s discussed an elaborate plan to deny people their constitutional right to vote and they were giddy about it. On the floor of the State Senate, I fought for ensuring people’s right to vote. I talked about Ezekiel Gillespie, who on Election Day in 1865, was told he couldn’t vote in Wisconsin because he was black. Mr. Gillespie sued all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and won. African Americans have had the right to vote in Wisconsin since.

It wasn’t until several years ago, when Republicans figured out that people of color and college students were most likely to not have proper ID for voting. You know what else college students and people of color have in common? They are both groups that are more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans.

That’s right; Republicans didn’t believe they could win fair and square, so they had to rig the rules. Only, this isn’t a game, this is people’s constitutional right to vote. The discriminatory voter ID law is ageist and racist, period.

Republicans said they were trying to prevent voter fraud. Mr. Allbaugh goes on to say voter fraud wasn’t real in his Facebook post. He’s right. In fact, more people are struck by lightning than commit in person voter fraud. Since 2000, there are only 10 cases nationally out of about 1 billion votes cast. That’s why I believe voter ID laws will keep way more people from even going to the polls on Election Day than it ever catches.

On Tuesday, I heard story after story of people who didn’t have the right ID and so they just stayed home. There were also long lines at the polls in black wards and on college campuses. All these things were meant to keep people from voting. Add that to the two-hour “computer glitch” that stopped the entire state’s DMV’s from issuing ID’s Friday, the last day for early voting, and the pattern is clear; Republicans don’t want you to vote.  

The only difference now is that Congressman Glenn Grothman has actually said it. But what else can you expect from a man who used to make his state legislative staff work on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and puts out press releases complaining about Kwanzaa?

To join Senator Taylor in her Legislative efforts, stay in the loop at Facebook.com/SenLenaTaylor, Twitter.com/SenTaylor, Instagram.com/Lena.Taylor or join her email list by emailing Sen.Taylor@legis.wi.gov.