Proposed Wisc. Voter ID Law Would Make Registering to Vote 'Really Hard', Maddow Whines

Curse those wascally Wepublicans in Wisconsin, you'll never believe what they're up to now.

Bad enough for the Badger State GOP to abet Gov. Scott Walker in his nefarious scheme to prevent public-sector unions from bankrupting the state. Worse, they are hatching even more diabolical plots while Dem state senators continue their courageous evasion of the law to avoid voting on Walker's proposal.

Here are the sordid details, as ferreted out by ace ferret-outer Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Monday night (video after page break) --

Just in case it wasn't clear enough, when the Republicans in Wisconsin announced today what they're going to do while the Democrats are gone, while the Democrats are out of state denying the Senate the quorum it needs to vote on this union-busting thing, guess what the Republicans are going to do while the Democrats are away? Guess what they're going to do next? It is a bill to make it harder to register to vote in Wisconsin. You know, weirdly, we used this last week as an example of the kinds of issues that Republicans do this on, as an example of the way Republicans use public policy for partisan ends, to benefit their own party and hurt Democrats. Registering new voters has long been a great source of Democratic electoral strength. Why is that? Because young voters and people who haven't voted before do tend to vote Democratic. So, if Republicans can make it really hard to register to vote, they can take away one of the ways that Democrats win in elections. If you make it harder to register to vote, you make it harder for Democrats to win elections.

Contrary to what Maddow claims, Wisconsin Republicans did not wait until state senate Democrats were conveniently out of state before they "announced" their plans for the voter ID bill. The proposed legislation has been in the works for weeks, as evident from this news about it on Jan. 13.

The legislation would also require Wisconsin residents to produce a photo ID when they vote, not when they register to vote as Maddow asserted. In fact, Wisconsin residents are already required to prove their identity when they register, as indicated at the website of Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board. In its page on voter registration, the board states --

As of January 1, 2006, all municipalities in Wisconsin require voter registration prior to a person being allowed to vote.

The federal "Help American (sic) Vote Act of 2002" requires any person registering to vote to supply his or her Wisconsin Department of Transportation-issued driver's license number.

Electors who have not been issued a Wisconsin driver's license must provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number OR their Wisconsin state ID card number.

How comforting that as of 2006, Wisconsin lawmakers decided that residents had to be registered to vote prior to "being allowed to vote." Wisconsin as hotbed of liberal initiatives, indeed. Gives you some idea of what Gov. Walker is dealing with.

The "Help America Vote Act of 2002" was passed by overwhelmingly by both chambers of Congress in 2002 and signed by President Bush in an attempt to avoid another Florida recount debacle.

In  a Jan. 9 2008 column in the Wall Stree Journal, OpinionJournal.com columnist John Fund, author of "Stealing Our Democracy: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy," described numerous examples of the subject of his book --

In Washington state's disputed 2004 governor's race, which was won by 129 votes, the election  superintendent in Seattle testified in state court that ineligible felons had voted and votes had been cast in the name of the dead. In Milwaukee, Wisc., investigators found that in the state's close 2004 presidential election, more than 200 felons voted illegally and more than 100 people voted twice. In Florida, where the entire 2000 presidential election was decided by 547 votes, almost 65,000 dead people were still listed on the voter rolls -- an engraved invitation to fraud.  A New York Daily News investigation in 2006 found that between 400 and 1,000 voters registered in Florida and New York City had voted twice in at least one recent election.

.... In 2005, 18 of 21 members of a bipartisan federal commission headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker came out in support of photo ID requirements more stringent than Indiana's (a reference to a then-looming Supreme Court decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, in which the court decided that the state's voter ID law was not unconstitutional). "Voters in nearly 100 democracies use a photo identification card without fear of infringement on their rights," the commission stated. Mr. Carter feels strongly about voter fraud. In his book "Turning Point," he wrote of his race for Georgia State Senate in 1962, which involved a corrupt local sheriff who had cast votes for the dead. It took a recount and court intervention before Mr. Carter was declared the winner.

In fairness to Maddow's point, requiring photo IDs otherwise can be downright annoying. Only days ago I was asked for one at my bank to withdraw some of my money. Think of how convenient it would be if banks were mandated not to require photo ID when their customers made withdrawals. Yes, the potential for fraud is enormous, but it's the principle that counts, right?

Just getting to the bank was rendered "really hard" for me due to the draconian law requiring motorists to be in possession of a driver's license. And try getting through an airport these days without a photo ID -- fuggedaboutit.

Lastly, Maddow's assertion that "young voters and people who haven't voted before tend to vote Democratic" speaks volumes, implying as it does that people who have voted before tend not to vote Democratic. 

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts