We are all aware of the story about the boy who tore his dad’s lawn mower apart to make it run better. The fact the mower was not broken in the first place, and then cost even more to put back together, is the part of the story that is supposed to make us smile.
Truth is the Republicans in Wisconsin are like the boy in that story. The voting system is the mower, and the cost associated with the ‘fix’ will be what taxpayers will need to ante up. When all is said and done, however, there will be nothing to smile about.
Much like the boy who wanted to find an answer to a problem that did not exist with the mower, so Republicans are hoping to design a voter ID bill for a problem that does not exist at our polling places.
Data shows that nothing nefarious is happening at the polling places in Wisconsin. NOTHING. There are no streams of voters pretending to be someone else, or voting twice. There are no throngs of folks using fake aliases to cast a ballot, and there are no elections that have been decided by all these wild claims. The only drama that is taking place regarding elections are when Republicans breathlessly try to gin up their base with false-hoods about voter fraud.
I think we need to cut to the core of what this is all about.
Republicans have trouble with those places like Madison with a huge and informed university campus that comes out on election day to cast a ballot. Yes, as a result of eduction colleges produce more liberal voters. As a consequence Democrats get more votes in areas such as Madison. But that should not be a reason for Republicans to attempt to curtail voting, or make it more difficult.
But that is exactly what Republicans have designed with the voter ID bill. Without data to support this stunning display of political overreach, the GOP wants to require voters to show a photo identification before they can cast a ballot.
While the need for this bill does not exist, the fact about it’s cost is most clear. Some of that financial weight would presumably be born by colleges, and the students who attend to study. That is unfair.
Wisconsin’s bill, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, would cost more than $5.7 million to implement. The measure would require voters to use a driver’s license, state ID, military ID, passport, naturalization papers or tribal ID at the polls. Student IDs would be allowed, but would have to include a current address, birthdate, signature and expiration date. Currently no college or university ID used in the state, including UW-Madison, meets those standards.
At a time of budget-tightening by Republicans, it seems pure folly to pass an unneeded voter I.D. bill that has such a huge price-tag. Even more questionable about the reason Wisconsin Republicans are pushing this bill is the fact that those who study the issue of vote fraud conclude photo ID’s will not stem the ‘problem’. The reason being that poll workers and election procedures are often more the reason for voter discrepancies than the presumptions and false-hoods promoted by Republicans.
Despite the fears raised by some, widespread voter fraud remains more myth than reality. Wendy Weiser, of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, said most studies have shown that voter fraud is typically isolated and almost never affects the outcome of elections. Weiser said that in problem cases, the issue is almost never someone voting under an assumed name, but rather issues with procedures followed by election officials or improper handling of ballots or election machinery.
“This issue is way overblown,” Weiser said. “And to the extent that there is any problem at all, photo IDs would help nothing.”
Finally, I am always amused at the desire of so many Republicans to advocate for military missions overseas in order to spread democracy, and then work to thwart rights here. Part of the process any democracy should embrace and work to encourage would be the right to vote.
Yet when voting trends do not favor Republicans they are more than eager, as evidenced by GOP efforts in Wisconsin and other states, to curtail and discourage voters from casting a ballot.
I think we all have a word to describe this.
To be polite I will just say it is ironic.