OZAUKEE PRESS EDITORIAL: Conniving to make it harder to vote

“I voted!”

It’s not bragging to wear the little sticker friendly poll workers give us after we’ve cast our ballots. We wear it to encourage others to vote. We do that because voting is the essential element of a democratic republic that would not exist without representatives elected by the people. It’s a reminder that voting is a free people’s duty of citizenship.

How dare anyone try to discourage Americans from performing that duty?

That’s a rhetorical question meant to express outrage, but now it can be addressed directly to the Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature who have proposed legislation clearly intended to dissuade citizens from voting.

This assault on voting is blatant. The perpetrators make no bones about it. They admit their efforts are designed to give an advantage to candidates of their ideology.

It used to be that politicians who supported voter suppression laws masked them as measures to prevent voting fraud. This was an understandable ruse, because something so contrary to the American ideal as working to decrease voter turnout has to be considered reprehensible. Yet the current Republican leaders of the Legislature of Wisconsin—the state that was the first in the country to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote and that once led the nation in progressive reforms making elected representatives more accountable to voters—are openly advocating voter suppression.

The anti-voting moves are part of a strategy to rush through legislation opposed by the new governor, Tony Evers, so it can be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before he leaves office on Jan.7.

Backers of limiting early voting in Wisconsin have tried it before, and were thwarted by a federal court that ruled such efforts constituted “stifling votes for partisan gain.” If they succeed in enacting a new law restricting early voting, more litigation is assured, with a likely loss in court, at taxpayer expense.

Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald has made it clear that the scheme to separate the 2020 presidential primary from the state spring election in April of that year is intended to improve the chances of Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, a Walker appointee, winning re-election.

The Supreme Court election is scheduled for the spring election as part of a consolidated ballot with the Democratic presidential primary, which is expected to attract a large voter turnout that the Republicans fear could favor Kelly’s opponent.

Removing the presidential primary from the ballot and rescheduling the election would surely decrease voter turnout in the state spring election to the benefit of the Walker-appointed court candidate.

Here is what else it would do, according to the 56 county clerks who signed a letter to the editor published in last week’s Ozaukee Press opposing the additional election: “waste taxpayer money, create logistical nightmares for clerks and greatly confuse voters.”

The letter pointed out that the additional election would raise havoc with voter registration and absentee and military ballot deadlines, cause computer programming complications and require counties and other municipalities to hire additional staff.

The election might not even be possible. “There is simply not enough time to interject another election in the already short” election timeline, the clerks wrote.

And if it were possible, it would cost taxpayers more than $7 million.

It is unclear at this point whether these attempts to manipulate voting will succeed in the face of the outrage being voiced across the state and beyond (the Wisconsin GOP power grab is national news that does not put the state in a good light), but merely trying them is an affront to the most basic right and responsibility of citizens, and it would be just and fitting that the vote suppressors be held accountable by those who vote.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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