There’s always something inherently cynical about how Scott Walker signs usually divisive legislation crafted by the Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. On every basic issue facing Wisconsin as it sinks to the bottom during Walker’s rule, there is a corrosive layer of right-wing extremism that gets quickly pushed through from the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate to Walker’s desk to sign into law. It’s usually a classic case of “fixing” something that’s not actually broken.
Making Wisconsin the 31st state in which online registration is permitted may seem like a great idea until you start looking at exactly what it really means. The bill’s co-author Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, cynically stated it was all about reducing paper. It’s about reducing voting in a democracy through Walker’s obsession with Voter ID requirements.
Walker signed the rushed Online Voter Registration bill that is to be available to voters as soon as 2016 and no later than in 2017. A politically-spawned provision eliminates the use of special registration deputies (SRDs) who have conducted voter registration drives that municipal election clerks deputize. SRDs, such as those organized by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, give public access to registration forms to help voters usually in under-served populations, senior centers, college campuses and public events to complete and return the forms to local clerks.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin stated that SB 295 where ““The Bad Far Outweighs The Good”. How else would this new law directly affect voter registration?
Linea Sundstrom shared a personal story that highlights the value of SRDs: “I am an SRD that has helped hundreds to register to vote. I once was asked to come to the home of a bright, courteous, pleasant young man, just home from high school, who also happened to be a quadriplegic. He had no WI ID or drivers license, so under this law he cannot register online and the clerk cannot make at home visits. Tell me how would he register to vote under this bill? How will this person become an active voter when you are throwing these hurdles in his path?” The problems posed by the bill for people with disabilities was also highlighted by WI Board of People with Developmental Disabilities.
Experienced City of Beloit Clerk Lori Stottler was worried about the combined impact of the bill to restructure the Government Accountability Board and the bill to create online voter registration. “I was asked by my boss how this bill would affect our voters in Beloit. Unfortunately I can’t answer him and I can only speculate because of the speed and size of this bill being rushed along. I can only tell him that we’ve enjoyed a lot of progress in eight years under the leadership of the GAB elections staff. I can only tell him that time and time again, the laws and regulations for recounts and recalls and challenging electors and observers and enforcing rules and regulations including the investigation of fraudulent voting … GAB has prevailed with their dignity and reputation intact.”
Besides the voter suppression efforts that Wisconsin Republicans and Scott Walker have wreaked havoc on Wisconsin voters, there is the obvious political antics by Walker to reject almost $23 million in grant funding that would have allowed the state to expand fiber optic broadband networks to 82 schools and 385 library facilities as well as improve broadband in the state generally. State Senator Julie Lassa wrote that is is “Time to invest in rural broadband access”:
Unfortunately, much of Wisconsin lacks access to high-speed broadband. According to the Federal Communications Commission and industry group data, 20 percent of Wisconsin’s population is currently underserved. The average broadband connection in Wisconsin is 23.8 MBPS — far slower than 4G speeds. As you might guess, rural areas of the state are especially starved for broadband access. For example, more than a third of Jackson County residents lack even minimal broadband coverage, as do more than half the people in Adams and Waushara counties.
Source: Stevens Point Journal
Walker wants to imply his voter suppression tendencies is “bringing Wisconsin into the 21st Century.” Such political messaging is dishonest.