Friday, May 20, 2011

Voter ID bill destroys Wisconsin traditions, values

Access to vote for all severely limited by newly passed legislation

The right to vote, to have a hand in selecting the leadership responsible for managing our government, is a tantamount right deservedly granted to everyone within a democracy (who has attained the proper age to do so, of course). Creating undue restrictions toward this privilege, thereby limiting the ability of citizens to take part in the democratic process, is rightly seen as an injustice, a sin beyond reproach within our society.

But with a single stroke of the pen next week, Gov. Scott Walker and his legislative allies will commit such a sin.

The voter ID bill that passed this week does so much damage to our voting process that some are touting it as the most restrictive in the country -- a stark change for our state as formerly being one of the most respected. Previously, all that was needed to vote was proof of address, such as a utility bill or lease with your name on it. Now, only certain forms of photo ID (with your current address printed on them) will suffice.

The changes will likely affect hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites, and not just those who have a difficult time obtaining an ID. Renters will also be denied access to the ballot box, as many of their valid ID's won't have their current addresses on them either.

This bill goes further than the ID requirement, however. Participation in early absentee voting, a relatively new trend for those seeking to vote before an election day, is also severely curtailed. Prior to this bill, you could submit an absentee ballot up to 30 days before an election -- but that has been shortened significantly, down to a mere seven days. For the elderly especially, as well as those that may have to work on an election day, this is a disheartening departure from a respected practice of allowing those that wish to do so to vote early.

This bill solves a problem that doesn't exist in Wisconsin. Voter fraud, when it happens, gets caught. It's prevalence in our state is minute, lower than levels acceptable to even describe it as a "nuisance."

It seems that the true motivations of this law is to suppress the rights and privileges of people that typically vote against Republicans. It's a shameful display of arrogance, of dismissive attitudes toward established traditions within our state. Wisconsin has celebrated the right to vote, as well as the limited restrictions we've placed on voting, for several generations. It's a sad, sad day when we say "to hell with these traditions!" in favor of restricting access to the vote, a right that so many have fought for, countless have died for, in order to protect.


In some ways, it's fitting that Gov. Walker, who is actively working to destroy other valued Wisconsin traditions, will proudly sign the bill that destroys this tradition as well. However, that observation, that little anecdote, however precise it may be, will provide little comfort to those who are set to be turned away at the polls on election days in our state's future. Lawmakers like Walker, as well as Republicans in the legislature, need to lose their power to govern. Support the recall efforts.

1 comment:

  1. where do you get a valued tradition??? to have no one check to see if it is really me when I vote, give me a break, heck we don't even have to sign out names to verify that we are who we say we are, the good people of Minnesota at least have to sign their ballots...

    there won't be thousands of people affected,

    just keep up printing the same old hate trash ...