POLITICS
09/19/2016 03:37 pm ET

Scott Walker Hawks Voter ID Law Despite Proof That 'Fraud' Claims Are Largely Made Up

Emails leaked to The Guardian show who's really driving the idea that elections are being rigged.
Can I see some ID?
JEFFREY PHELPS/AP
Can I see some ID?

Last week was a bad one for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), following a massive document leak published by The Guardian that revealed, among other things, his ties to dark-money groups raising millions to help him achieve his political goals.

You know money is tight when you personally have to beg Donald Trump for a donation.

Buried in the cache of documents was an interesting set of emails between Republican strategists seeking to craft a message in the event of an electoral defeat for then-Justice David Prosser, who in 2011 was seeking re-election and was a Walker favorite to hold on to his state Supreme Court seat.

The justice was seen as instrumental to the “Walker agenda,” according to the emails, which also noted that the race for his reelection was a close one.

“Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should,” said one of them, a lobbyist and former GOP legislative staffer, to a group of associates.

“Yes. Anything fishy should be highlighted. Stories should be solicited by talk radio hosts,” responded another one, a former assembly speaker. Prosser ultimately held on to his seat after a recount. 

This exchange ― which underscores that claims of vote-rigging and fraud are largely manufactured ― is notable because of its timing. About a month later, Walker signed the state’s controversial voter ID law, claiming its aim was to safeguard “the integrity of every single vote.”

On Sunday, Walker continued to push Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement ― seemingly unaware that some in his own party viewed claims of voter fraud as political maneuvering, not an ill to be remedied.

Yes, the law is still on the books, thanks in part to a court order last month that allowed it to remain in effect ― with some caveats thrown in for those who may have trouble obtaining a voter card before the November election.

And yet Walker’s tweet still stands out, if only because of its dissonance from the reality that voter ID laws ― in Wisconsin and elsewhere ― are often wielded as a political tool.

Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, who noted Walker’s tweet in his blog, has long pointed out that the GOP’s purported justifications for voter ID are little more than political myths.

“It is a shameful falsehood, given the extremely low rates of voter fraud in the U.S., especially the kind of fraud targeted by Republican voter ID laws,” he told The New York Times. “It undermines faith in the fairness of the electoral process, which is the bedrock of all functioning democracies.”

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