Voting Rights MUST Be Senate’s Focus, January 6th Was Dry Run For Insurrectionists

Let us be honest. Our democracy is under attack.

As we near the January 6th anniversary of the violent rioting and deadly outcome on our nation’s Capitol, where over 140 law enforcement officers were injured, we must grasp that event was not a solitary one that is now over and done. Instead, the 6th was akin to the first shots fired at Fort Sumter in 1861. The roadmap for further violence and an even more dire stab at the heart of democracy is outlined by Republicans who have simply made up their minds to steal the 2024 presidential election.

They have created and fostered through FOX News the tortured twisting of facts and data from the November 2020 election, repeating the lies often enough to sway their viewers across the land. Republican state legislators have rammed through in a number of states harsh and unnecessary voting restrictions so to make it harder to cast ballots and fog the outcomes if the final tally does not meet their wishes.

Conservatives have even used as a talking point that state legislatures have the final say in which slate of presidential electors gets to vote in the Electoral College. Republicans have argued, out loud and in the light of day, for a crazy upside-down theory where, for instance, a state legislature could undo the will of the state voter. For example, if more people in a state voted for a Democratic nominee a legislature would still have the power to pick a slate for the Republican nominee to be counted at the Electoral College.

When the Republicans tell the nation their intentions, through words and legislative actions, the citizens need to pay heed. This is not just some fabricated scare tactic Democrats are promoting. Republicans are telling us exactly what they intend to do.

Today Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a strongly worded, and much-needed letter to his colleagues. Simply put the Senate must pull their pants up and do the work that our democracy demands. The new push for legislation dealing with what Republicans did on January 6th and their plans for the future must be dealt with by senators.

As we all are witnessing, the attacks on our democracy have not ceased. In fact, they have only accelerated. Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president’s Big Lie about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation and seize control of typically non-partisan election administration functions.

While these actions all proceed under the guise of so-called ‘election integrity’, the true aim couldn’t be more clear. They want to unwind the progress of our Union, restrict access to the ballot, silence the voices of millions of voters, and undermine free and fair elections. They wish to propagate the Big Lie perpetuated by the former president that our elections are not on the level.”

Republicans will, doubtless, respond that they’re just listening to the concerns of their voters. Oh, please! Stop the crap! The only purpose for the newly enacted laws in various states and the proposed bills is to ensure more and more restrictions so as to impinge the ability of voting by Black people, people of color, young people, and lower-income Americans. 

Long-time readers of this blog know I am very much rooted in history and civics. What happened on the 6th, and what has been threatened for the future based on legislative action to curtail voting, must not be seen as a partisan fight. The issue at hand, the survival of our democracy, should not be a partisan contest. What I am writing about here, and what the citizens need to be engaged in, is the struggle for the nation’s ideals. It’s very survival as a functioning democracy.

This is an American fight. It’s a battle between conservative and autocratic forces that want to go backwards to an era of Jim Crow laws and the majority in the nation who value a more inclusive democracy with cultural diversity mirrored by election results. Make no mistake that is the fear of an older and too-white America. Therefore, we must demand the furtherance of a more inclusive democracy. It starts with a push by voters to insist the Senate address the filibuster issue and then pass the voting-rights legislation.

Our democracy requires nothing less.

And so it goes.

Voting Restrictions Are Republican Revenge For Losing White House, Senate Elections

We knew it would come to this. There was no doubt the deep-seated voting conspiracy theories within the Republican Party following the 2020 November election would morph into needless and absurd attempts to curtail the will of the electorate. What the party could not do at the ballot box with their candidates they will try to achieve by manipulating the process of voting going forward.

What needs to be stated at the front end of this post is obvious. Many of the proposed changes by Republicans to how a person can cast a ballot–in those states where far-right elected officials hold sway–are doing so with the full array of data to solidly prove their allegations of fraud are bogus. There is no evidence the GOP can produce to support their partisan and purely deluded allegations. On the flip side, however, there are audits upon more audits to prove fair and process-driven state elections were conducted in the nation.

What galls so many Americans is the refusal of Republicans to agree that in our democracy it means every eligible person has the right to cast a ballot and to do so without being placed in a position where multi-hour lines need to be traversed to do so, or voting in conditions where the health of the citizen is placed in jeopardy. We live in 2021 and with history and common sense as a guide means the GOP should be able to discern the altered needs of voters. This past year many of us actually followed the science and advice from medical professionals and cast ballots from our home. We should not be penalized for being smart and safe.

I am continually amazed at the lengths to which Republicans will go to thwart the political process and game the system so they win elections, not by the strength of their issues, but by the cunning game they play before elections. If not aggressive gerrymandering that has contorted lines for districts that stain credibility they are hatching plans for voting laws that disproportionately affect Black and Latino voters in negative ways.

Oh, Republicans do love their games. After allowing their party to be hijacked and played by Donald Trump they are now so empty of policy ideas with which to broaden their base they instead are going for the dank, dark basement. As such, they are weaponizing Trump’s insane fabrications from last November to justify their actions from coast to coast. Forget about fostering policy ideas akin to how former congressman Jack Kemp once labored! Let’s just make it harder for ‘those people’ to vote.

No one on my side of this issue wants anyone other than eligible citizens to cast a ballot. But that does not mean delivering sealed ballots of people who cannot, or in a pandemic do not want to go to a polling place (that includes my husband and me) changes the validity of my ballot choice. I am truly angered by the notion being promoted by Republicans that a level playing field during elections is a competitive disadvantage for the ones who run weak candidates.

And so it goes.

Waushara County: Redistricting Reform On Ballot

My letter to the editor of the Waushara Argus regarding the much-needed redistricting reform was published this week. The county has a ballot measure on the fall ballot. I explain why it matters, and why it deserves broad support.

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The most partisan project I witnessed when working at the State Capitol was the crafting of the district lines following the 1990 census.  There were large maps of the First Assembly District on the office walls and reams of voting data of villages and towns on our desks.  Like every other member of the majority party our legislative office was looking to shape political lines to benefit the existing powers under the dome.

That process was illuminating, maddening, but informative.  For the past nearly 30 years I have been a continuing advocate of reforming the ways our district lines are drawn. I am very pleased that Waushara County voters will have a ballot referendum this fall regarding this most important issue. I would like to explain why it matters and ask for your support on Election Day.

If you shake your head in derision when our state legislature balks at even the most lukewarm funding strategies for our transportation systems or fails to protect ground water chalk it up to the way district lines are designed. If you wonder why districts are deep blue, or red and why there is no real electoral competition so to debate issues and chose among candidates it is due to redistricting.  If you feel the most strident voices from both sides of the aisle dominate while the moderate and compromising middle of the electorate is not visible, that is also due to the current way redistricting occurs.  

We cannot have a functioning state government if the politicians choose their voters.

Redistricting reform may appear ‘boring’ at first glance, but it is central to much of the discord in the state today.  When we do not have political boundaries that represent the diversity of the electorate or are crafted for the sole purpose of party control, then the essential art of governing is reduced to merely partisan gain.

This should not be a partisan issue. Both parties deserve criticism for the secretive and stubborn way they handled redistricting.  Wisconsin Democrats had the majority power during the time of Governor Doyle to create a redistricting commission and chose not to proceed.  We know elected Republicans would not even hold a hearing in 2013 on a proposal to create a commission.

Unless the way we elect people is based on a more equitable and level-playing field all the grand ideas we may hold about building a stronger society will be left in drafting folders on a shelf.  Therefore, I ask the folks of my home county, (I grew up in Hancock, 1980 graduate) to do what we have always known to be right since first studying civics in our youth.  Vote YES on the Non-Partisan referendum.   And I thank you.

Gregory Humphrey

Election Reform With Popular Vote Movement Gains Steam

Nationwide there are continuing efforts to make the electoral process more accountable and representative of voter’s wishes.

Democrats in Colorado and New Mexico are pushing ahead with legislation to pledge their 14 collective electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote — no matter who wins each state. The plan only goes into effect if the law passes in states representing an electoral majority. That threshold is 270 votes, which is the same number needed to win the presidency. … Proponents of the national popular vote measures have argued that it’s not political, but Republicans, who have benefited in recent elections from the Electoral College system, disagree. … So far, 11 states — including New York, California and New Jersey — have joined the effort along with the District of Columbia, putting the effort 98 votes short of its goal.

Koza said the rules are why presidential candidates only campaign in a handful of states. He recognized what might be a potential loophole in the Constitution — that while the Electoral College is in the Constitution, nothing says a candidate who wins a state has to get all of its electoral votes.

“The political power to the choose the president was basically given by the founders to the state legislatures,” Koza said. “And over the years they’ve passed different laws specifying how to allocate their state’s electoral votes.”

In fact, Maine and Nebraska do not have “winner-take-all” systems. They allocate their electoral votes to presidential candidates by congressional district, with an additional two electoral votes going to the winner of the state.