Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update - May 10, 2011
- Assembly Vote on Most Restrictive Voter ID Measure in the Nation on Wednesday
- Add Your Name to the Growing List of Wisconsinites Against Gerrymandering
- Wisconsin Supreme Court Looking for Citizens to Serve on Advisory Committees
1. The "powerful" Joint Finance Committee of the Wisconsin Legislature met Monday and voted 12 to 2 along party lines to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money Wisconsin doesn't have to implement the most restrictive voter identification system in the nation -- Assembly Bill 7 -- and rush it to a vote in the full Assembly on Wednesday.
The Committee accepted an amendment that will allow college and university students to use their photo ID without an address, provided they also bring specific proof of where they live, but that the ID must have a two-year expiration date--which student IDs currently do not have. The University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical College system say that current student IDs are not in compliance with this measure. And, the measure is "silent" on how much taxpayers will have to bear to issue new student ID cards after two years to comply with this measure -- but the likely cost is tens of millions of dollars.
Even after making this reluctant "concession" proponents of Assembly Bill 7 are still unable to explain why they insist on passing the most restrictive voter identification law in the nation. Currently only eight of the 50 states in the nation require a photo ID to be shown at the polls to vote. Another 18 require a wide array of other non-photo ID and 24 states require neither. Assembly Bill 7 calls for the fewest and most restrictive forms of ID and would make Wisconsin the most burdensome and difficult state in the nation in which to cast a vote. Why? No proponent of this measure is willing to say.
It is not because of voter "fraud." There isn't any of note and proponents can't cite any.
And the cost of this measure could skyrocket and run into tens of millions of dollars. Isn't Wisconsin experiencing an unprecedented $3.6 billion budget deficit "requiring" deep and savage cuts to education, health care and many other vital state services? Where did the proponents come up with the millions for this new, restrictive and unnecessary measure?
The Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau cites a price tag of between five and six million dollars just for administrative and training costs and for the free IDs that must be available to citizens who cannot afford to purchase one from the Department of Transportation. But it will cost millions more to add personnel and expanded hours for Department of Motor Vehicle offices and mobile units. And tens of millions more to bring student IDs into compliance with the law. And then it will cost millions more for the state to defend this law which will almost certainly be challenged in the courts because of its unprecedented restrictiveness and because of how it assaults basic voting rights in Wisconsin. How much will Wisconsin taxpayers have to shoulder to pay for all of this? Apparently the sky is the limit.
There is real confusion about when the provisions of this measure will become effective. Immediately or in 2012? Apparently citizens will be asked to show their photo ID at the polls immediately after this measure becomes law but will be allowed to vote during 2011 -- in the upcoming special and recall elections -- if they do not have one of the proscribed forms of photo ID. They must have that proscribed form of photo ID in order to vote in 2012. Many voters will understandably be confused and will think that they cannot vote in the recall elections without the photo voter ID -- which is likely the intent of the bill's proponents. But there is one important provision that will definitely be effective immediately when this measure is signed into law: a requirement that citizens reside in Wisconsin for at least 28 days instead of the current 10 days - which has been in place for years and has worked just fine. And it is just in time for the upcoming recall elections. So the real goal of proponents of this measure -- to reduce the number of citizens who can vote and to make voting more burdensome and difficult for everyone (misplaced your wallet with your driver's license in it on Election Day? Tough luck!) -- could begin as soon as next week.
Most Wisconsin newspapers have editorialized against this photo voter ID measure in its current form including, most recently, the Wausau Daily Herald and The Capital Times. Most Wisconsin citizens would oppose it too if they knew just how restrictive and burdensome it really is.
To let your State Representative know how you feel about this assault on your intelligence and on your constitutional right to vote -- go here. If you are not sure who your State Representative is, go here.
2. Every day, more and more Wisconsinites are adding their names to "the list" of citizens who demand an end to gerrymandering legislative and congressional districts -- a process which is underway now and will be completed next year at tremendous cost to taxpayers and by one of the most secretive and partisan methods in the nation. Read this latest redistricting reform blog by Bill Kraus, long considered one of Wisconsin's most astute political minds, and then reply to this message or call us (608/256-2686) to say "add my name (and where your are from) to the list!"
3. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seeking interested Wisconsin citizens to serve on public advisory committees and boards. The Court is particularly looking for citizens who reside in the following areas:
District 3 - Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Winnebago
District 4 - Calumet, Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan
District 5 - Buffalo, Clark, Crawford, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Richland, Trempealeau, Vernon District 6 - Waukesha
District 15 - Racine
District 16 - Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Onieda, Vilas
To find out more go here.
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
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