Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Wisconsin Voter Suppression Bill - Assembly Bill 7

I was calling Senate Bill 6 the Voter Distraction Bill, but now the Republicans have introduced Assembly Bill 7 which goes even further. Plus, they want to pass it quickly and before any recall elections. So I find it fitting to call AB7 the Voter Suppression Bill, as many others have called SB6 and AB7. Calling it the voter ID bill isn't appropriate, because the bill won't create a "voter ID" as the name implies. Calling it the photo ID bill also isn't appropriate, because it's vague and the bill won't allow for the use of just any photo ID as that implies. If you want to call AB7 something appropriate, the Voter Suppression Bill is the most appropriate name Wisconsin has come up with.

Both SB6 and AB7 will give Wisconsin the strictest photo ID requirement in the country and reduce the number of people who can and will actually vote in our elections. Not only that, but the bills will cost Wisconsin taxpayers yearly more than the current recount will, and the problem they're trying to solve, voter fraud, has only added at most 20 improper votes in the last few years. In fact, neither bill would have prevented any one of those 20 improper votes. This bill is a fraud.

Voter fraud is nowhere near one of the significant issues in our elections. The fact that Kathy Nickolaus or nearly anyone else could easily add thousands of improper votes is the real issue that we all should be furious over. To have any influence, voter fraud requires a true conspiracy on a level the United States has not seen. However, by manipulating voting machine tallies, one person can swing a statewide election. That doesn't require a conspiracy. Wisconsin elections, and many other issues in our state, require real solutions not fake solutions such as these Voter Suppression Bills.

Some of the significant differences between SB6 and AB7 limit absentee voting. AB7 limits absentee voting to a few specific reasons. The bill also would reduce the limit of in-person absentee voting from the current 30 days to one week before an election. If there are relevant issues with absentee voting, they're not solved by limiting absentee voting to very specific reasons or reducing the amount of time people may vote.

Another significant restriction in AB7 is on the required amount of time an eligible voter must be living in Wisconsin to vote. AB7 increases that time from 10 days to 28 days before election day. This provision will clearly deny more legitimate Wisconsin citizens from having a vote, and again for no good reason. Both bills already include a restriction banning student IDs for the photo ID requirement.

AB7 also removes our ability to vote a straight party ticket. Whether you like it or not, it's a convenience that many people appreciate. Making someone work harder to vote for no good reason is un-Wisconsin.

The non-profit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law submitted testimony on AB7 that is a wonderfully succinct rebuttal of the bill and its goals.

I want to have an effective discussion about the relevant issues with our elections and possible real solutions. I'm hoping we can use this recount to bring real change and confidence to our elections. I've assembled a list of the issues we've encountered during the Supreme Court election and the recount as well as my arguments for open election systems as a solution to many issues. I will continue to add to the list as more legitimate issues come to light, and I'd like to add more solutions to the list as well. So, don't hesitate to share your concerns and ideas.

Updated: (May 2, 6:39pm) I've now read through AB7, and it's nothing more than a very expensive distraction from the real issues and will only suppress the votes of legitimate Wisconsin citizens, particularly those who already struggle to have a voice. So, I made a few edits for clarification and added some great testimony on AB7 from the non-profit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

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