GOP lawmakers aimed to preserve political power in passing voter ID, according to former WISGOP stafferU.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman’s words on how Wisconsin’s newly implemented voter ID law will flip the state red in the presidential election still haunt me.
Grothman responded last month, “Now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is gonna make a little bit of a difference.”
Many jumped on the comments as proof that voter ID wasn’t about preventing fraud at all. And although Grothman tried to walk back his commentary following the minor uproar, it isn’t too far of a stretch to consider this as part of a big Republican plan to win swing states and their legislatures.
Today, we received confirmation of those fears -- that Wisconsin Republicans passed the ID law for their own political benefit. At least one Republican has stepped forward, pointing out that lawmakers from his own party who passed the voter ID bill were “giddy” about the prospects of disenfranchising large segments of voters that traditionally voted for Democrats.
[Former GOP aide Todd] Allbaugh added some [Wisconsin lawmakers] were “politically frothing at the mouth,” singling out Sen. Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa and former Sen. Randy Hopper of Oshkosh. He added Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin and then-Sen. Glenn Grothman were also among the most enthusiastic members of the caucus during a closed-door meeting in supporting the bills.And from the Cap Times (emphasis in bold added):
“They were talking about impeding peoples’ constitutional rights, and they were happy about it,” Allbaugh testified over the objections of the state Department of Justice.
[Former State Sen. Dale] 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.The fact is that preservation of legislative seats (and gaining more seats) was the primary goal of the Republican Party from the get-go. They just needed a way to win the elections, and win them easier. In other words, they needed a way to steal seats.
"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.
It’s not all that hard to steal an election under the guise of voter ID -- all it takes is three steps.
Step one: implement an unnecessary voter ID law.Not only implement a law that isn’t really necessary to begin with, but also makes it more difficult to get the right kind of ID in the first place.
How unnecessary is voter ID? From the Christian Science Monitor (emphases in bold mine):
...we’re talking about 31 apparently fraudulent ballots cast out of roughly one billion. That amounts to 0.0000031 percent of the total votes cast over the time period that Levitt studied and it amounts to a quite obviously infinitesimal amount of the total ballots cast. Again, that doesn’t dismiss the fact that the incidents he uncovered were in fact crimes and that the people involved in them ought to be appropriately prosecuted. What it does suggest, though, is that the argument that voter ID laws are necessary because of some widespread problem is simply not true, and that more weight ought to be given to the arguments of those who point out the difficulties that voter ID laws create for certain classes of voters, most often the poor, minorities, and the elderly.And from Think Progress, examples of how hard it is for those without ID to get one:
After filling out a series of forms at Milwaukee’s DMV and posing for a picture, Barksdale was able to obtain a state ID he can use to vote on Tuesday. Helem was not, because she did not have a copy of her birth certificate. Though she presented her Social Security card, proof of residence, and Illinois State ID, the DMV staff said it would take them at least three weeks to find and verify her birth certificate.
Step Two: make sure enough people are ignorant about the new rules.The law Gov. Scott Walker signed that put voter ID on the books included a provision that required the state to educate the public about what kind of identification would be acceptable, and how to go about getting a new ID if it were necessary.
But the new law went into effect during this year’s spring elections -- without any education campaign at all.
A Marquette Law School Poll in February demonstrated that nearly one in every six registered voters didn’t know main aspects of the law, or even that they needed an ID to vote. With about 3.4 million registered voters in the state, that equates to more than 542,000 voters in Wisconsin that don't understand the new ID rules.
Step three: execute the plan in a swing state (like Wisconsin).The Democrats have won every presidential election in Wisconsin since 1988. In recent years, the difference between the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate have been slim. Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 by less than 220,000 votes. In 2008 he won with just over 400,000.
The two elections prior to those were even slimmer: in 2004 John Kerry won with just 11,384 more votes than George W. Bush, and in 2000 Al Gore defeated Bush with just 5,708 votes.
Having more than half a million voters being uneducated about the new ID law certainly could affect a presidential election where the average totals for the last four elections between the Democratic and Republican candidates have been decided by just 160,000 votes or so. That sounds like a lot of voters, but if three out of every ten voters who don’t understand voter ID remain in the dark about it by November, it could tip the balance in favor of Republicans.
That’s exactly how you create a political “fix” in Wisconsin, if you’re a Republican. You create a new voter ID law that’s unnecessary, you refuse to educate the public on the new law, and you enforce it knowing that a sizable number of people in the state won’t understand the new ID rules -- not to mention that a sizable number WILL understand them but still won’t be able to vote because of huge restrictions in what’s an acceptable ID.
It’s disgusting to hear that leaders were just aching to pass this law, not for its necessity, but rather because it would ensure more political victories for their side. Wisconsinites need to know the truth, and need to reject this type of lawmaking by electing new leadership to head the state legislature.