April 27, 2016

Walker blames voter ID opponents for his own mess

By: Sen. Lena C. Taylor

 

Voting is a right and our government should encourage everyone to vote, not just a privileged class of voters.

 

You don’t have to show your ID when you go to church to express your right to freedom of religion (1st Amendment). You don’t have to show your ID to keep yourself from being enslaved (13th Amendment). And you shouldn’t have to show an ID to vote.

 

We’ve fought this fight and Republicans passed the law anyways. In a previous column, I shared with you a former Republican Senate staff person blew the whistle on the true reason this law was passed; to keep people of color and college students from voting.

 

Proof of Republican voter suppression:

 

Here are the first few sentences of what the witness heard behind closed doors during a private meeting of Republican Senators:

 

“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…”

 

Behind closed doors, Senator’s discussed an elaborate plan to deny people their constitutional right to vote and they were “giddy” about it.

 

We knew their motives. That’s why on the floor of the State Senate, I talked about how the original draft of our state constitution expanded the right to vote. I spoke 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.

 

Walker blames Democrats:

 

Not only are Republicans making it harder for us to vote, Governor Walker is blaming those of us who opposed the law for a lack of funding for an education campaign to ensure people can vote.

 

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

 

I won’t apologize for fighting for voting rights. Nobody should apologize for taking this terrible idea to court. 

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board wants to run an education campaign on voter ID. Democrats have been in full support of this plan. Because Republicans haven’t funded it, the GAB offered to use $250,000 from their own reserve fund to run the campaign.

 

Yet, when recently asked about this by a reporter, Governor Scott Walker tried to blame Democrats for a lack of an education campaign.

 

Governor Scott Walker writes and signs into law Wisconsin’s $73.3 billion 2-year state budget. He proposes the funding increases and he makes the funding cuts. So how does he get away with talking out of both sides of his neck?

 

I wish I could say this is new, but it’s just more of the same from Governor Walker. This is a disturbing pattern of passing the buck (and the blame).

 

We need a voter ID education campaign:

 

Because about 300,000 Wisconsinites lack the proper ID to vote, we need an education campaign. This plan won’t even spend a dollar to educate each person. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is when people talk about being turned away at the polls. Even more people just don’t bother to show up on Election Day.

 

I got calls in my office on the last day for early voting in April. The entire state DMV computer system went down for about two hours. Rather than wait, many people just left.

 

Many who got their ID faced long lines at the polls to register, especially on college campuses where first time voting is common. I heard story after story of long lines on Election Day, especially on college campuses. How many people get out of line on Election Day because it’s too long?

 

Luckily, it looks like the final decision on an education campaign will be left up to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance. As the ranking Senate Democrat on that committee, I assure you that I will fight for a photo ID education campaign. While I’m there, I’ll be hitting them up for some funds to solve the juvenile corrections crisis too!

 

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.