Email date: 12/5/12
In this update:
1. Attacks on voting to escalate in 2013
2. Over $300 million spent in Wisconsin on campaigning for 2012 elections
3. Unlearned lessons lead Walker aides to jail in John Doe probe
Attacks on voting to escalate in 2013
Near the end of author J.K. Rowling’s famous seven-book saga of witches and wizards and dark forces, Harry Potter is labeled “Undesirable No. 1” by the Ministry of Magic. Today in Wisconsin, if anyone carries that stigma, it is the voter. Judging from recent comments by top leaders who control the state’s political agenda, manuevers to make it more difficult to vote will only intensify in the new year.
The governor is talking about no longer allowing eligible voters to register on election day. Getting a law requiring voters to have a state-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot is a top priority for the new assembly speaker, who isn’t keeping secret his intentions to push a reconfigured bill that attempts to work around constitutional obstacles that caused more than one judge to block enforcement of the ID law enacted last session. And the new senate leader wants control over the independent agency responsible for administering elections and enforcing ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws.
Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem. Backers say they are needed to prevent voter fraud, yet there has not been a single documented case in Wisconsin of voter impersonation – the only kind of voter fraud an ID requirement could prevent. Same-day registration is a key reason why Wisconsin has had higher than average voter turnout, leading the state’s largest newspaper to come to its defense.
After studying election and ethics agencies across the country, the Ohio State University’s law school singled out Wisconsin’s as a national model and the “leading example of a board insulated from partisan politics.” One of the election law experts on the OSU faculty applauded Wisconsin’s use of retired judges to oversee its election agency to “promote impartiality” in administration and law enforcement. Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald wants to replace those retired judges with political appointees. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offered a simple response: “No.” So did the Wisconsin State Journal: “Stop whining.”
Citizens will have their work cut out for them in fighting attacks on voting rights and fair elections in the upcoming legislative session. But we should never stop thinking of ways to move forward even as we devote time and energy to blocking efforts to take us backward. That was on our minds this week as we sent a memo to legislators about the need to modernize obsolete laws that once protected us against government corruption but no longer do so.
Over $300 million spent in Wisconsin on campaigning for 2012 elections
At least $310 million was spent by candidates and interest groups trying to sway voters in state and federal elections held this year in Wisconsin. After enduring a steady diet of attack ads, political junk mail and annoying robocalls, state voters pretty much maintained the status quo. That led more than a few observers to conclude that big money lost in these elections. As WDC’s director pointed out in a recent blog, however, big money has a way of winning even when it appears to lose. His commentary was reprinted by The Capital Times both online and in today’s print edition.
Unlearned lessons lead Walker aides to jail in John Doe probe
One longtime associate of Governor Scott Walker’s was sentenced to jail late last month. Another likely faces a similar fate after pleading guilty. No one seems to have learned anything from a very similar scandal that rocked the Capitol a decade ago. In fact, there’s an eerie sense of déjà vu as taxpayer-funded government work became intertwined with private political work.