State Rep. Chris Taylor

Domination Through Voter Suppression

Republicans use gerrymandering and Voter ID confusion to win with fewer votes.

By - Apr 10th, 2016 07:16 pm
Glenn Grothman.

Glenn Grothman.

This week, there were developments on two major Republican voter suppression mechanisms. A three judge federal panel greenlighted for trial an important case regarding the 2011 Republican gerrymandering of legislative districts, noting that the maps for the Wisconsin Assembly more heavily favor one party (the GOP) than any other map in the country in the last 40 years! This decision came a couple of days after we saw the impacts of the second prong of Wisconsin voter suppression – the fallout from having one of the most extreme voter ID laws in the country.

After Ted Cruz won Wisconsin, Congressman Grothman bluntly stated that the real purpose of Voter ID laws was to help power-hungry Republicans remain on top. This was compounded by a former GOP staffer disclosing that at a closed-door meeting of Republican legislators considering the Voter ID bill, “giddy” GOP lawmakers acknowledged the ID bill would most negatively affect the ability of students and minorities to vote.

Republican legislators purposefully included a requirement in the law that student IDs used for voting must expire within two years and be signed by the student, disqualifying typical student IDs at campuses around the state, while also requiring proof of current enrollment. This requirement is especially hard on out-of-state students and those without a driver’s license. In my own district, which includes a large chunk of the UW-Madison campus, about a quarter of students are nonresidents or out of state students.

Indeed, students on some campuses waited hours to get the correct identification and then to vote. There were reports both of students being turned away for not having the right ID and students leaving without voting because of the long lines caused by the ID process. Marquette University and UW-Green Bay were especially hard-hit, with 240 students still in line at Governor Walker’s former University when the polls closed at 8 p.m. Some students wondered out loud why it seemed they were being prevented from voting.

Ideally, the Voter ID law wouldn’t exist in the first place, and Democrats did everything they could to stop it on the front end. What Governor Walker and the Republican-led legislature won’t tell you is that despite having passed one of the most extreme Voter ID bills in the country, they have refused to fund the public informational campaign that is specifically identified in the legislation and was supposed to precede its implementation.

That is why I introduced a bill to allocate $500,000 to the GAB to conduct this vital campaign. It is a small price to pay to make sure our citizens are informed and actually get to exercise their most fundamental right to vote. Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues refused to act and provide any funds for the voter education campaign that was an integral part of the law.

Republicans quoting Tuesday’s record numbers at the polls as proof that Wisconsin’s Voter ID law isn’t suppressing votes are trying to throw you off their scent. Despite the high turnout, the bottom line hasn’t changed – Voter ID laws don’t combat fraud (which is virtually nonexistent) but they have been shown to disenfranchise voters. Think about how high the turnout could have been if everyone had been able to exercise their right to vote!

The November election is bound to set another record in terms of turn out, with at least another one million or so voters turning out, but also in terms of voter disenfranchisement. It seems the GOP is deliberately trying to create a state were the populace doesn’t know what they need to vote, so they either do not vote in the first place or are prevented from doing so. Either way, our democracy is diminished.

We must demand that that our state implement an educational campaign around these new, onerous voting requirements. The Government Accountability Board (GAB) is meeting on April 26 at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Capitol in the Joint Committee on Finance Room, 412 East. This meeting is open to the public, and people have a right to make brief statements at the beginning of the meeting. We must tell our stories about why an educational campaign is needed. Our democracy depends upon it.

Chris Taylor, D-Madison, represents District 76 in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

22 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Domination Through Voter Suppression”

  1. Alene says:


  2. Hal says:

    Libs have had the upper hand in the cheating department for years. It’s time we had a true election with actual residents voting. Nothing but cry babies. You get a Democrat as governor in Doyle with a Democratic leaning legislature and have your way with the state, stealing money from the DOT to slide money to your side and now that the Conservatives have control and can actually run this state like adults, all you can do is whine. Grow up.

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    Pot, meet kettle. Run this state like adults? Like obsessing about bathroom bills? Like insulting higher education and humanities courses? Like freaking out about Kwanzaa? One could go on and on and on. If that’s adult behavior I’m the Pope.

  4. Karen Hotlen says:

    When Doyle was in Bush had us in a recession and if it weren’t for a Democrat we would have went into a depression. What is Walkers excuse for putting us into debt and giving away taxpayers money to his cronies who funded his campaigns . Who has robbed the university and taken money from our public schools to fund failing charter schools . Putting his friends who have no experience in to high paying jobs and running around the country on taxpayers money , putting in Right to work which is a failure in every state the republicans have put it in and is in Wisconsin too. Stopping 300,000 people from voting by,surppessing the vote. Why are we last in almost everything? We have corrupt judges and the AG is working only for Walker not the all the people he promised to work for when he was running for office.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yeah conservatives love to bash Doyle and constantly bring him up, but Walker has been in office 5+ years now, and Wisconsin’s economy is hardly anything worth bragging about. Quite the contrary.

  6. Casey says:

    Partisanship is great in Wisconsin. Thompson was governor while Clinton was president, Doyle was governor while Bush was president and now Walker is governor while Obama is president.
    It’s all quite convenient, you can always blame the other guy.

  7. WashCoRepub says:

    Wonderful to see how successful the widespread adoption of Voter I.D. was last Tuesday. Record turnout, very few problems reported, and citizens exercising their constitutional rights while the possibility of voter fraud is reduced significantly. A win/win all around!

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    Troll somewhere else WashCoRepub. You never engage with anyone, just re-post GOP press releases.

  9. Alene says:

    Vincent Hanna: Funny, when I read WashCoRepub’s reponse I had the same thought as you wrote in your reply.
    There were tons of problems with voting, but because it was supposedly a record turnout and they are not acknowledging those problems, then of course they would say it was a win/win when in actuality it was a win/lose situation. Some people did not get to vote. That goes against everything a democracy is supposed to be.

  10. Sandra says:

    Hal says……”Libs have the upper hand in cheating for years….really”?

    What about the Shorewood man convicted (February 2016) of voting multiple times in several heated elections in 2011 & 2012, all for “republican” candidates running for office, including Governor Walker, Alberta Darling etc.!

    Why is it that conservatives like “Hal”, seem to think it’s the liberal establishment that is or could be the offenders? The Shorewood “man” may be the worst case ever, and all for republican candidates!!

  11. Penrod says:

    “This requirement is especially hard on out-of-state students” Hmmm: Why would any responsible people WANT out of state students to vote locally? They have no long term stakes in the effects of their voting.

    I saw this in Madison in the late 1960s and 1970s: Students from around Wisconsin were delighted to vote consistently for liberal Democrats for city council, safe in the knowledge that they would bear no consequences for their actions because they would soon be moving away.

    People who were committed to living in Madison and voted responsibly were overwhelmed by student voters who took only the shortest term views. “Let’s have rent control, man! Screw developers who want to build housing, man! Screw the landlord pigs, man! Capitalism is Organized Crime, Man!” And so Madison deteriorated, thanks to a system which rewarded short term thinking and those politicians who were equally irresponsible.

    I would be delighted with a system which encouraged college students to vote in their home towns or not vote at all. They don’t have a stake in their college town until they settle down there.

  12. Tom D says:

    Penrod (post 11), According to the US Supreme Court (in a 7-2 decision), college students have the right to vote at college. Like it or not, it’s the law!

  13. Hal says:

    Well, conservatives won. Cry me a river. Get over it.

  14. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    What a lie, course they can vote a college but if they are too dumb to figure out how this country is in big trouble.
    Next how come, if this voter suppression that in every state where they have Voter ID a basic need the vote goes up, especially in inner city. Do some research not just blabbers.

  15. Penrod says:

    Thanks, Tom D, for not responding to anything I actually said, and instead setting up a straw man. I did not say students should be prohibited from voting in their college town, and you clearly knew that when you ‘responded’.

    In cities like Madison, with tens of thousands of college voters, ‘live for the moment’ voters can, have, and do, have destructive effects on the political process and its long term consequences. Simply because they have a right to vote at college does not make doing so a good practice.

    If you want a conversation, respond to what I actually say. Otherwise you simply reveal that you have nothing with which to respond.

    So I challenge you: Please explain why large numbers of voters with only extremely short term interests in a community are likely to improve that community in the long run, especially given the fact that roughly a quarter of those short time frame voters depart every year and are replaced with new short time frame voters. By what mechanism do such voters improve the community?

  16. Paul Miller says:

    Penrod, the college students in Madison (and other college towns) are people who live in the community, do volunteer work, spend money that keep local businesses afloat, and help drive the very culture and economy of the city. It doesn’t matter if they’re not necessarily long-term residents. Not only do they have the right to vote–they *ought* to vote in order to make sure the voting population is as representative as possible of the actual community.

    Look at it this way: even after those students leave, there are other students who will take their place. They are voting not just for themselves but also for future students. The city (and state) must be attentive to the needs of its shorter-term population, just as they also should be attentive to the needs of the “established” population.

    By your logic, old people who are nearing the end of their lives shouldn’t vote either because they will be dead in a few years and don’t have a personal long-term stake except that they care about the future on behalf of others. And if you’re going to say that’s legitimate, then you have to concede that college students voting for their own interests and the interests of the students coming after them is also legitimate. At what point do you draw the line where you think it’s right for someone to vote in a community?

    I would remind you as well that it is the very presence of a major institution like UW-Madison that helps drive the identity and culture in Madison to begin with. There’s a reason why Madison today is one of the truly successful cities in Wisconsin economically, and college and graduate student participation in that community is a key part of that success. Keep that in perspective.

  17. Alene says:

    Paul Miller — By Penrod’s logic, no one should vote because we could all die at any time, or move away from our community or state thereby ending any long-term stakes in the effects from our vote. No one knows what tomorrow or next week will bring.

  18. Vincent Hanna says:

    A college student lives somewhere for at least four years and spends at least the majority of the year there right? Why shouldn’t they vote where they are living? What is the harm in that? Are you suggesting that a college student who cares enough to vote doesn’t care about the community where they live during college? I don’t understand your logic at all. It seems like all it really has to do with is the fact that college students lean left and you don’t want them voting here.

  19. Tom D says:

    The idea of “wanting” some voters more than others (and using these “wants” to justify voter discrimination) is a very slippery slope.

    Voter ID makes it harder for students to vote because many students legitimately carry out-of-state driver’s licenses which Wisconsin won’t accept as ID—even though Illinois’ photos presumably have sufficient clarity to verify identity.

    There is one other major voting group that legitimately carries out-of-state ID—the military (and their families), but Wisconsin treats these voters very differently. Military voters are even more transient than college students (and therefore, according to “Penrod” even less “wanted”), yet Wisconsin goes out of its way to enfranchise them out-of-state soldiers

    In Wisconsin, all military photo IDs are acceptable voter IDs but many student photo IDs are not (and even when they are accepted, they always require a second supporting document). If the purpose of Voter ID were only to prove identity, any photo from a trusted source (like a government-run university) would be enough.

    It’s really hard to escape the reality that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is about voter suppression rather than voter integrity since the law discriminates against certain ID but not others.

  20. Penrod says:

    Hi Tom D “Voter ID makes it harder for students to vote because many students legitimately carry out-of-state driver’s licenses which Wisconsin won’t accept as ID”

    Um…having an out of state drivers’ license is evidence that one is a resident of another state, and therefor not qualified to vote in Wisconsin, nor in any other state save the state of residence.

    If students can’t be bothered to establish residency in Wisconsin -as opposed to merely living in Wisconsin for school-, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote in Wisconsin. They are welcome to vote in their home states, either in person or absentee. If they can’t be bothered to do either, they don’t get to vote. Tough beans.

  21. Alene says:

    I thought our state law says that if you can prove residency for 27 consecutive days before an election you can vote.

  22. Steve says:

    American citizen ~ Right to vote. Simple as that.

    Listening to some of the old know-it-alls the last 2 weeks tells me that
    1) Kids (kids = under 30 ) shouldn’t be allowed to vote
    2 ) blacks shouldn’t be allowed to vote
    3) “mexicans” shouldn’t be allowed to vote
    4) Indians shouldn’t even be here because we conquered them, therefore shouldn’t be allowed to vote, especially since all they do is live on the dole and take all our money with the casinos.
    5) Anyone that doesn’t know how to pull there pants up, cut their hair, or keep their legs crossed shouldn’t be allowed to vote

    Welcome to Amerika … Land of the free-ly opressed

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