Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Democrats and Independents, You Gotta Vote Come November and Here is How
Oh, hell no, I did not watch the lie-fest that was the GOP national convention in Tampa, FL. I only saw excerpts after the fact and on the local news at 10 p.m. The Wisconsin mainstream news media has been way too effusive and obsequious towards favorite son Paul Ryan for my taste. Nothing wrong with pride in a Wisconsinite who comes to national prominence, but Ryan has been playing too fast and loose with the facts. This is nothing new, because this is his modus. Now that he has the national spotlight, however, the local media has been slow to call him out; it’s been the national news people who have been pointing out his lies.
What still worries me is voter suppression among African Americans, Latinos and other ethnic groups prone to vote Democratic, as well as the youth, the poor, and the elderly in Northern swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These come in the form of voter ID or voter fraud laws that are nothing less than a resurrection of the old poll tax that Southerners (who are now in the majority among Republicans) imposed on blacks to keep them from voting.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is now asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate Act 23 (aka AB 7) in time for it to apply in November. Along with the state Department of Justice, he will file a “Petition to Bypass Court of Appeals” and a “Motion for Consolidation” in both cases. League of Women Voters lawyer Lester Pines called the move a ”kind of a hail Mary pass by the Attorney General,” and seemed confident that the Supreme Court would reject the requests. He pointed out that this is the same court that refused to immediately take up the cases earlier this year. Still, the voting rights supporters who originally brought cases are concerned and will fight the Attorney General’s requests. Meanwhile, two federal challenges to the law are currently pending, with hearings scheduled in October.
I wouldn’t be too, too confident about a positive outcome to this appeal. Why? Murphy’s Law. Remember that this can be a combative, partisan-divided and Bagger-influenced Wisconsin Supreme Court where the worst could occur. Instead, I think folks should get off their cans and go and get a state-issued ID card that will be a bulwark against any kind of voter suppression if you are one or all of the targeted groups.
First off, if you don’t have a valid driver’s license or an ID card issued by the State of Wisconsin, you can get a state-issued ID card for free if you state that it is being used to vote. Here is the form, and it is for real. Download it and fill it out, and in particular, check off that big box that says you are using it to vote. Understand that you are still required to provide the following at the time you get the ID card at your local DMV:
- Proof of name and date of birth, for example, a certified U.S. birth certificate, valid passport or certificate of naturalization.
- Proof of identity (usually a document with a signature or photo).
- Proof of Wisconsin residency.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, legal permanent resident status, legal conditional resident status or legal temporary visitor status.
- Your social security number.
After that, you will have to register to vote in your area. Here is the voter registration form for Wisconsin. Download it and fill it out. Currently, Wisconsin requires proof of residency in order to register to vote. Provide any one (or two) of these at the time you register to vote:
- A current and valid WI Driver License /ID Card
- Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit
- An employee ID card with a photograph, but not a business card
- A real property tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election
- A residential lease (Does not count as proof of residence if elector submits form by mail)
- A picture ID from a university, college or technical college coupled with a fee receipt
- A picture ID from a university, college or technical college coupled with an on-campus housing listing provided by the university, college or technical college to the municipality that denotes US Citizenship
- A utility bill for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before the day registration is made
- (Homeless voters only) A letter from an organization that provides services to the homeless that identifies the voter and describes the location designated as the person’s residence for voting purposes
- A bank statement.
- A paycheck .
- A check or other document issued by a unit of government
Where would you register to vote? The closer we all get to the election, it is best to do these things in person, otherwise the paperwork may not get to you in time. You can:
1. Register in person at your city, town or village clerk’s office until 5 p.m. on the day before the election. You may also be able to register in person at other designated places in your community.
Check with your town, village or city clerk’s office, particularly in larger municipalities for other registration sites such as a fire station, public library, community center, Independent Living Center or another agency that provides services to people with disabilities. You may also be able to register at voter registration drives that may be held during community events.
2. Register by mail. You can download and print an Application for Voter Registration Form (Form GAB-131) or you can contact (write or call) your city, town or village clerk’s office and ask them to send you an Application for Voter Registration Form (Form GAB-131) in the mail. Follow each instruction carefully and mail it back before the deadline. (It must be postmarked or received in the clerk’s office 20 days before the election…
3. Register at the polls on election day.
I would warn folks that unless you are rising early in the morning on election day, try not to register on the same day because of the rush and press of the citizenry around noon and especially after five. You may have to deal with delays and with waiting in line for long periods of time. In other words I would advise people to do it early and do it ahead of everyone.
Also, do you belong to a church or to a seniors’ group? Don’t they have a voter registration drive? Get social and have them help you to register. They are particularly helpful when it comes to driving folks en masse to the voting sites, even to chartering buses and organizing car pools or free lifts to the voting sites.
These are other organizations that will help people to register and to get to the polls. Some, like Vote411.org, has hotlines. (However, if you are reading this post from another state, there may be laws in place that prevent third-party registration.)
Now if you already have a valid driver’s license, you don’t have a problem. And if you are already registered, fine. However, if you haven’t voted recently (You think? From all the recalls?), or have changed your address, it is time to get over to your local library or fire station and deliver (if you download the form from this post) or fill out a new voter registration form.
Even then, you may have to deal with part of a right-wing task force called True the Vote that is going to plant themselves at voting sites across the country to make sure that there is no fraud. Actually, the group may be abetting voter intimidation and suppression. Don’t be surprised if they show up in Wisconsin, a formerly blue state that has turned purple and may go for Romney-Ryan.
[National Elections Coordinator Bill] Ouren has a five-point recruitment strategy: Plan. Mobilize. Train. Deploy. Follow-up. Election workers, poll judges, clerks, machine operators and other elections staff are “under immense pressure to do the wrong thing,” Ouren told recruits at the Boca Raton training. “Your monitoring gives them cover to do the right thing.”
Recruits sign up at True the Vote’s website for online trainings and gain access to voter registration lists in their counties. They look through the lists for names to submit to election officials for purging. This process is playing out now in Tampa, where True the Vote’s reputation for voter intimidation has followed the RNC to a state already notorious for reckless purging. Come Election Day, they’ll deploy to the polls.
“We ask anyone and everyone who serves under True The Vote” to write down everything they see that looks funny, funky, fraudulent, Ouren told recruits. “If something doesn’t go right, document it.” Gather those incident reports, he urged, and they’ll be given to legislators or used for lawsuits. “You create the record that debunks so much of the nonsense that says that there is no such thing as voter election fraud.”
This was the strategy that worked in Texas, that helped pass a voter ID law and set up a showdown over the Voting Rights Act, even though none of what they documented actually amounted to voter fraud.
Know your rights. Don’t give them an inch to disenfranchise you or your neighbors and friends. And vote.
- Risk of Voter Suppression Resurfaces: Wisconsin Attorney General Seeks to Reinstate Voter ID Law (commondreams.org)
- Van Hollen again asks Supreme Court to take up photo ID law (jsonline.com)
- Van Hollen wants Supreme Court to take Voter ID case (channel3000.com)
- Federal court rejects new Texas voter photo ID law (thestate.com)
- Wisconsin AG to ask state Supreme Court to reinstate voter ID law (jurist.org)