Monday, October 31, 2011

Premature changes to recall districts likely to fail

Moderate Republican Schultz to vote against Lazich bill

A move to change the state legislative districts two years early, affecting who could sign recall petitions for several state senators, is not only political posturing of our electoral process but also a move that destroys the democratic rights of thousands of Wisconsinites.

Fortunately, it will not pass. Sen. Dale Schultz, a moderate Republican, has signaled he won't vote in favor of the bill. If every Democrat votes against the bill as well (an expected occurrence, seeing as it's a blatant partisan jab against their party), it will fail in the Senate.

The state senators in office that would have been affected by this change were meant to represent their constituents until 2012. But by preventing their people the right to sign the petitions, the bill would have essentially rendered them "representative-less." It would have disregarded their rights as voters to take part in the recall process (if they choose to do so) by saying that the person they elected is no longer their legislator, long before their official term as such had expired.

The bill proposed by Sen. Mary Lazich is an action that could conceivably give even more justification to the very recall elections she's attempting to obstruct. It is, after all, Lazich herself who stood to benefit most of all from this bill's intent, alongside her conservative colleagues, all of which would have seen their constituencies change in drastic ways due to the new (and controversial) legislative maps their party alone had crafted.

If this bill had passed the legislature, it would have reignited the outrage that recall petitioners currently hold against Republicans in the legislature. But just because it will fail to pass doesn't mean that it still shouldn't enrage state voters. Conservative forces in our state are attempting to change the rules in the middle of the game, attempting to hold onto power by any means necessary (even if that means destroying their democratic rights). This is but one example of their interfering with the democratic process -- more have come about, with more examples likely materialize as well.

Republicans like Lazich ought to be ashamed of themselves. Yet we should also take this opportunity to thank Republican Dale Schultz for his brave stand against partisan tactics that obstruct Wisconsin voters' rights. His principled defense of democracy should be celebrated by Democrats and Republicans alike.

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