The Wisconsin State Assembly has been under Republican control for a month now and our representatives have been working relentlessly on the one issue that got them elected: Jobs, jobs, jobs.
Nah, I'm kidding that's not what they've been doing at all.
First, newly elected Governor Scott Walker pulled the plug on high-speed rail in Wisconsin, costing the state thousands of jobs without taking a dime off the federal deficit. Andrew Cuomo and the workers of New York as well as politicians in Florida and Illinois are currently asking the federal government for the jobs and stimulus that Wisconsin turned down.
The Republicans have also named Representative Stephen Nass chair of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater alumni has made it a priority to cut funds from the UW system and defund the Havens Center at UW-Madison because, as he says, it is "too far to the left." This is a man who worried that the installation of red bike boxes to protect bikers in the city of Madison was "basically about liberal extremists in Madison who hate cars and think everyone should bike to work," so it should come as no surprise that Nass has wasted no time crying commie now that the Republicans have their majority back.
Jobs, jobs, jobs.
Now, the State Senate is continuing their no-nonsense, jobs-first agenda by introducing a voter ID bill aimed at stopping Wisconsin's widespread voter fraud that blatantly does not exist. The new law would require voters to present official Wisconsin state identification at the polls. No longer will an out-of-state ID, student ID, or utility bill be counted as a valid form of identification under this law -- a provision that may cause problems in a state with a major university that houses tens of thousands of students from other states. The bill also proposes to do away with the corroborator process, which allows a registered voter to vouch for their roommate if that person has no utility bill.
This is a blatant attempt by the Republicans to make it more difficult for college students and poorer people to vote -- two demographics that, coincidentally, tend to lean Democratic. According to David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there are an estimated 300,000 people in Wisconsin who do not have a driver's license and who are currently eligible to vote. Under this bill, the state would offer special IDs to voters for free, but voters would be responsible for picking them up in person, a burden to many residents, especially those without cars.
Senate Republicans are also taking strides to eliminate same-day voter registration, which about 10-15 percent of Wisconsin voters take advantage of on Election Day.
We should not place unnecessary burdens on citizens who want to vote. Revoking the registration of 300,000 Wisconsinites while forcing residents without state drivers licenses, like myself, to jump through hoops to register is a completely illogical way to combat the 63 fraud complaints that arose from the 2008 election. Of those 63 complains, only one resulted in a conviction.
Even if there are a couple-dozen isolated incidents of people risking felony convictions to vote twice, our elections are not at risk unless there is organized and widespread fraud -- something that, again, is not a problem. The proposed bill will do nothing but drive down voter turnout and make it more difficult for citizens to become engaged in our democracy.
The Republicans are making their priorities clear. Rather than focusing on something like, let's say, jobs, they'd rather address a right-wing bogeyman that exists in the same world where ACORN thugs and the Black Panthers rigged the election that brought us our first Muslim president.
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