WI Voter Suppression Law Goes On Trial
May 17, 2016

The good people at One Wisconsin Now and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund filed a lawsuit a year ago against the State of Wisconsin regarding the newly enacted voter suppression law. The trial started on Monday with fireworks and the naming of names when former Republican staffer Todd Allbaugh testified against the law:

Todd Allbaugh, who served as chief of staff to then-Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, when the state's voter ID law was passed in 2011, said there initially wasn't much enthusiasm among Senate Republicans to pass the bill.

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, argued on the bill's behalf to her colleagues in a closed caucus meeting, Allbaugh testified.

"She got up out of her chair and she hit her finger on the table and said, 'Hey, we've got to think about what this could mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses around the state,'" Allbaugh said.

Schultz, who did not seek re-election in 2014, voiced some opposition to the bill and what it might do to voting rights, Allbaugh said. His opposition was met by a spirited defense from then-Sen. Glenn Grothman, now a member of Congress.

"At that point, Sen. Grothman cut him off and said, 'What I’m concerned about is winning. You know as well as I do the Democrats would do this if they had power … so we better get this done while we have the opportunity,'" Allbaugh said.

Allbaugh said Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, and then-Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, were "giddy" and "politically frothing at the mouth" over the bill.

He said several other senators — Neal Kedzie, who resigned in 2014, Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, and Luther Olsen, R-Ripon — appeared "ashen faced."

Others, he said, didn't show any reaction.

Unsurprisingly, the senators named by Allbaugh have gone into hiding and are not responding to any reporters.

And as if there was any question as to the intent of the voter suppression law passed by these giddy Republicans, the lawyer for the plaintiffs put it as clear as can be:

"Restricting access to the ballot box was not simply a consequence, but the very purpose of these laws," lawyer Josh Kaul told the court, asking not only to have the laws struck down, but for a judge to find they were passed with discriminatory intent.

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