Scott Walker and the GOP: Time for some election problems in Wisconsin | WisCommunity

Scott Walker and the GOP: Time for some election problems in Wisconsin

When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office evidently decided to punish certain local government officials for not supporting him politically, the word went out from Christie's staff: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," referring to the crippling and otherwise unnecessary closing of lanes on a critical bridge serving the communities led by those contrary local officials.

When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his hegemony-minded Republican colleagues decided to leave nothing to chance and began their push to suppress the votes of anyone who might support their political challengers through the ballot box, Team Walker sent out word of its own. The effective message: "Time for some election problems in Wisconsin."

Christie's gambit has not only caused him serious legal trouble, but also has damaged his plans to run for president. It remains to be seen whether Walker's similar ploy will wreck his own chances to win another term as governor or his ambition to run for president. In a just world, both politicians not only would be punished by voters; they'd also face the prospect of jail time for misconduct in public office.

Thanks to the Walker/GOP vote-suppression campaign, we in Badgerland are watching our election machinery grind to a screeching halt. The chief Republican weapon is the deliberately ill-conceived "Voter ID" law that is working its way through the courts but for now is again on track to limit the number of Wisconsin citizens who can cast a ballot -- and in such a way as to mainly limit voters presumed to oppose Walker and his partisan pals.

But, explain the Walker forces to an approving, conservative, federal judicial panel, we've fixed our Voter ID law to make it easier for people without the limitee forms of acceptable ID to go get such paper. Righhhhhht. If, that is, you have a car, and can find time during extremely limited weekday hours to travel to and stand in line at one of the state's sparsely distributed Divison of Motor Vehicles offices, and if you bring all the required proof of your identity. Then: wait and wait and wait, while the understaffed DMV processes your request, maybe not in time for the next election.

Accommodating the Wisconsin GOP's latest attempt at institutionalizing fear, uncertainty and doubt, the federal court's newest decision allows Voter ID to take hold for an election that is only weeks away, ensuring mass confusion and throwing into question the acceptance of more than 11,000 absentee ballots that were already filed before that ruling. Re-processing those ballots could cost state and local election authorities precious time, and money that has not been budgeted.

Nevertheless, and seemingly without self-awareness, Walker and company also extended their vote-suppression scheme with the strange complaint that the state's most overworked election offices have expended too much time and money helping people vote -- especially in places like Milwaukee, where majorities typically don't vote Republican. Which is why the Walkerites not-so-helpfully limited the period during which people can cast their votes in advance, and also selectively limited the hours and locations that election offices can accept absentee ballots, in a way that discriminates against Democratic urban areas.

Because, apparently in the Walker-flavored GOP mindset, voting by some citizens should not only be hard, it should be next to impossible. Hello, neo-Jim Crow laws that spit on the voting rights of minorities, along with seniors and other disadvantaged and -- oh, yeah -- Democratic voters. Republicans have, in short, taken the federal government's "Help America Vote" Act and tweaked it, creating the "Help America Vote Republican" Act.

When Chris Christie's lieutenants announced to their enforcers that it was time for some traffic problems, they unwittingly fashioned a figurative noose that still strangles the political future of their boss. Let's hope that the GOP's decision that it was time for some election problems in Wisconsin causes Walker and his self-serving party equal grief. In a just and equitable Wisconsin, Walker's willful messing with democracy should result in punishment, not reward.

UPDATE: And now comes the latest election-related effort by Republicans to obfuscate, confuse and (this is often overlooked) motivate. I'm referring to the state GOP lawsuit complaining that the non-partisan Government Accountability Board is redesigning the fall ballot. The GOP is overtly suggesting this wlll help Democratic candidates. Go look at the most recent ballot and the new draft ballot.  Obviously, what really annoys the GOP is that the Democratics are listed first, but that's based on a rule that has in past elections likewise benefitted Republicans. You see, a boon should always go to Republicans but never Democratics. It's a stupid lawsuit, but it gives GOP politicians and their enablers the chance to complain some more about another made-up threat (hint: it's not a conspiracy, even if the GOP implies otherwise). The lawsuit merely gives the GOP a way to throw more red meat at its dwindling base of supporters while possibly throwing the legitimacy of the election up into the air, a la Florida 2000. If you can't win, the GOP says, cry fraud. Before and after the election.


September 17, 2014 - 8:44pm