Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Photo Voter ID Legislation Still Too Restrictive/Partisan Redistricting Costs Taxpayers Big Bucks

Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Wednesday November 13, 2013

1. New GOP Voter Photo ID Measure Is a Loser
2. Gerrymandering Costs you Plenty While Six Months Have Elapsed Without Public Hearings

1. In a time span of less than two weeks, Assembly Republicans have introduced, rushed through committee and scheduled for a vote (on Thursday), a revised photo ID measure -- Assembly Bill 493 -- on the last day of floor action in the Assembly in 2013. Why? Because they realize the photo voter ID law they passed and had enacted into law in 2011, Act 23, is very likely unconstitutional and will never be in effect in Wisconsin because it is far too extreme and restrictive. That matter is being litigated right now in federal court in Milwaukee. So the GOP wants to pass AB 493 -- a completely partisan Republican measure -- to appease their base before going home until January. The Republican-controlled State Senate wisely went home Tuesday without considering any new photo voter ID measure because they say they want to see what happens with Act 23 first.

Assembly Republicans (and only Republicans) have crafted a slightly different version of Act 23 which contains a couple of exceptions to having to produce one of the very narrow array of proscribed photo identification forms. AB 493 allows for the ability to sign an affidavit in lieu of producing specific forms of ID at the polls, but only if the voter swears that they are too poor to be able to afford any costs associated with getting documents needed to get an ID, something they know many people would be reluctant and even resistant to doing. Why? Because it is demeaning and insulting for almost any person to go before someone in public and have to sign a statement saying they are indigent. And the Republicans know that.

If they are the least bit serious and sincere about providing a legitimate affidavit option to voters without the proscribed photo ID, then they would have provided for an unconditional affidavit such as Michigan does with their Photo ID Law -- which says that if you do not have the proscribed form of photo identification in order to vote, you can simply sign the affidavit that says you don't and your vote is counted like all other votes, not "marked" or labeled and set aside such as AB 493 stipulates it must be.

Assembly Republicans don't say it, but what they are really seeking is permanent partisan advantage. That's why they insist on enacting into law one of the most restrictive and extreme photo voter ID laws in the nation -- more extreme than in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, or South Carolina -- states with a long history of denying many citizens the vote. Those deep south states allow more forms of ID to be be used to vote than AB 493 or Act 23 does.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got it exactly right Tuesday when they editorialized against this latest partisan attempt to restrict voting, and asked when are the public hearings on Senate Bill 163/Assembly Bill 185 --- non-partisan redistricting reform legislation.

2. In the aftermath of the Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Forum in Stevens Point on October 28th, which saw between 250 and 300 citizens attend, there is further renewed interest and momentum behind redistricting reform which we -- and most of Wisconsin's major newspapers -- have been pushing relentlessly for the last six months, and particularly since August. One of the most aggressive advocates for non-partisan redistricting reform has been the Beloit Daily News and their most recent editorial on the subject deals with how Wisconsin taxpayers are being ripped off under the current system of partisan gerrymandering. Read it and get mad and demand that your State Senator and your State Representative make non-partisan redistricting reform a priority and that public hearings be held now.

To contact your state legislators, go here. If you are not sure who they are, go here.

Stay tuned for exciting news about redistricting reform public hearings!

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703

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