Are you OK with Republicans recording your image while you're trying to vote? Yet another off-the-wall vote suppression scheme. | WisCommunity

Are you OK with Republicans recording your image while you're trying to vote? Yet another off-the-wall vote suppression scheme.

Wisconsin Republicans seem to know no bottom these days, especially when it comes to playing anti-democracy games that assault privacy in service to their partisan self-interest. The latest example of this rampant authoritarianism is a new GOP push to let election observers photograph and videotape voters at state polling places.

This outrageous proposal, according to GOP supporters, will help identify any "irregularities" at the polls, real or -- more likely -- imagined. Given that Wisconsin has a strong history of well-run and orderly elections, this shark-jumping new intrusiveness would more likely create polling-place irregularities, exacerbating the kind of chaos and circus atmosphere that dissuades voters from even showing up. Who wants a Big Brother camera in their face as they're signing in or even just coming and going from their polling place? 

But Police State Republicans seem okay with that. More than okay. They claim they're out to "protect" the vote, dontcha know. But, deep down, they're only interested in protecting the Republican vote. Because, as history also shows, the lower the turnout, the more often Republicans win. Who needs all those pesky other voters with their peculiar ideas that might favor Democratic or third-party candidates? Certainly not Republicans! Because it's a sure bet you aren't going to see GOP proponents pulling out video cameras at polling places in, say, New Berlin.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Government Accountability Board (GAB), which oversees state elections, was to decide Monday whether to abandon its existing rule that forbids election observers from taking photos and videotaping activity at polling places. Late Monday afternoon, the GAB voted 4-2 to retain its restrictions on photography in the polling place, after hearing numerous speakers worry about the intimidating aspect of such surveillance during an election. However, the Republican-controlled legislature could go ahead and change the rule on its own in the next session.

Thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's signature last spring on a new law allowing such observers to stand as close as three feet from the table where voters check in, cameras with zoom lenses could probably record you signing your name in the polling book, along with what color shirt you are wearing, any oversized pores you might have, and whether you look suspiciously like someone other than yourself. Conspiracy Avengers, assemble!

Two GOP state legislators oversee elections committees deserve special scorn, and the first of them is among the usual GOP sources for truly bad ideas. Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Kathleen Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) oppose the accountability board's existing camera ban and "asked" for the changes. We put "asked" in quotes for a reason. Walker controls the membership of the supposedly non-partisan accountability board, and it'd be a real shame if something were to happen to that "non" thing. 

What's next? Loyalty oaths and DNA swabs? C'mon, Republicans. Grow up and respect citizens, instead of viewing them with increasingly maniacal suspicion while trying to manipulate them for your own benefit.

And while you're working on that, try as well to respect the principles upon which this country and this state were founded. Making citizens run a gauntlet of critics -- whether in the classroom, outside an abortion clinic or inside a polling place, is just plain anti-American. Which makes you, in the tradition of your party's late Sen. Joe McCarthy and his agitprop, just plain anti-American. Have you no decency?


July 21, 2014 - 2:09pm