Nothing is more fundamental to democracy than the right to vote. This is why we need to keep our voting laws as open and fair as possible.
Voting rights are under assault in Wisconsin. This isn’t news. Our draconian voter ID law has recently been struck down by a federal court after months in limbo. But its proponents promise to bring it back in another form after the election in November. In addition, early voting opportunities have been limited in order to suppress votes in urban areas.
The reason behind the recent push to change our open, democratic voting laws is transparently partisan and it is unacceptable.
The voter ID law is a remedy to a malady that doesn’t exist. What lies in its wake is simple: disenfranchisement. It is touted as a way to combat voter fraud, but in reality it prevents many people from exercising this most fundamental civic duty.
By adding another obstacle to the voting process, one that requires time and resources, it will keep eligible voters from the polls. These types of laws disproportionately keep the elderly, people of color, students and the poor from exercising their right to vote. Additionally, because requiring citizens to pay for an ID in order to vote can be considered a “poll tax” the state must provide free IDs to those who request them. This costs taxpayers money, unnecessarily so.
Requiring an ID to vote is costly, unnecessary, and unfair. I am against it.
The most recent assaults on voting rights are even more cynical. Reducing early voting hours and days has no point other than to suppress votes. Early voting helps alleviate lines at the polling places on voting day, especially in districts with less resources and more voters. It allows voters who have a difficult time making it to the polls on a Tuesday the time to plan ahead and vote at their convenience, especially on weekends.
In recent years, Wisconsin has seen record turnouts, much of it due to African American and Hispanic populations coming out in higher numbers in urban areas. These groups also tend to use early voting at higher rates. This is encouraging and we should support efforts to ensure more people are engaged in the voting process.
We should be extending early voting hours, especially in urban areas like Milwaukee, which have large populations that can be difficult to accommodate on election day itself. We should also ensure that those hours are expanded to include weekends and some evening hours to accommodate those who work traditional hours.
Wisconsin is one of the 11 states and the District of Columbia that allows same day registration for voters. This allows anyone to register at the polling place with proper documentation.
It’s simple. It places no undue burden on poll workers. It provides incentive for people who have never voted to do so.We should continue to support same day registration in Wisconsin.
As a representative I would also support the repeal of the law that makes it more difficult for residents in adult-care facilities and residential care facilities to vote through absentee ballot. The measure, passed into law earlier this year, requires the presence of two election officials from each party for every vote. Protecting the rights of those who are unable to make it to the polls should be a priority. Restrictions such as this make it harder for our citizens most in need of help to make their voice heard.
As the representative of Assembly District 19, I would fight to make sure that early voting continues and is expanded, that the Voter ID requirement is never implemented, that same day registration continues in Wisconsin, and that we don’t restrict absentee voting rights.