GOP Voter Disenfranchisement Wisconsin-Style: First Pass Voter ID; Then Limit Access To Comply

As if it's not bad enough that Republicans are wrecking what little financial stability we have left with their ridiculous debt-ceiling chicken dance, they're also working hard in the states to disenfranchise voters. In Wisconsin, the preferred

As if it's not bad enough that Republicans are wrecking what little financial stability we have left with their ridiculous debt-ceiling chicken dance, they're also working hard in the states to disenfranchise voters. In Wisconsin, the preferred method is to require voters to present valid photo identification at the polls. The Voter ID law passed under Scott Walker's watchful eye earlier this year, with all due credit to ALEC for their helpful drafting of the legislation for lazy lawmakers.

One Wisconsin Now explains how that impacts voters:

Wisconsin's population is substantially less likely to have a state-issued identification. Those without state-issued photo identification and who would need to obtain one under the Wisconsin Voter ID bill include:

  • 23 percent of all elderly Wisconsinites over the age of 65
  • 17 percent of white men and women
  • 55 percent of all African American males and 49 percent of African American women
  • 46 percent of Hispanic men and 59% of Hispanic women
  • 78 percent of African American males age 18-24 and 66 percent of African American women age 18-24
  • [Driver License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin, 6/05]

Yes, the bill as written does have a provision to provide free identification for some Wisconsinites. Each and every one of these people would have to take the time off (in many cases unpaid) from work or family obligations to flock to Wisconsin DMVs. However, access to the DMV is a problem in Wisconsin; Indiana provides its residents exponentially more access to its Department of Motor Vehicles offices to obtain identification.

That post was written in January. It's now July, and guess what? Governor Scott Walker, citing budget squeezes, is closing 10 DMV offices throughout the state. But these aren't just any old DMV offices, no. They're conveniently located in Democratic districts.

Michael Shatz, a Wisconsin blogger:

This story shows just how stupid neoconservatives think the public really is. Walker and his ilk pass a bill requiring voters to present valid photo identification at the polls. Then, in the same breath, Walker and his ilk propose a bill to close the identification issuing centers (the DMV’s) in the Democratic districts, making ID’s more difficult for low-income voters to obtain.

And the reaction when they were called on it was just classic:

A high-ranking DOT official rejected that claim, saying the changes were based on economics, not politics.

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown.

Jorgensen said he was concerned doing that would discourage people from Fort Atkinson from participating in elections.

"What the heck is going on here?" Jorgensen said. "Is politics at play here?"

Transportation Department executive assistant Reggie Newson denied that politics was behind the office closure plan, saying the decisions were being made based on what made the most economic sense.

"This has nothing to do with politics," he said. "We're trying to make sure that we can provide service in each county statewide efficiently."

How conveeenient.

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