Afraid of their electoral prospects in November, and unable to run on the strength of their ideas alone, Senate Republicans passed mean-spirited voter suppression bills this week. After debating the law in the dead of night and ushering it’s swift passage early the next morning, Republican’s blatant attempt to change the rules in order to win elections is now drawing criticism from Wisconsin press.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opined against the bill today, calling Republican arguments for voting restrictions “a thin veneer covering the real intent”. The editorial board exposed the true intention of the bill as “suppressing the Democratic vote in Milwaukee and Madison, where many of the state’s people of color live. It’s a highly partisan bill that harks back to an era when voting was made much harder by strict poll laws for certain groups of people. On that basis alone, Gov. Scott Walker should veto the bill.”
Journalist Bruce Murphy also takes on the motives of state Republicans in a new article today. “GOP lawmakers are about to pass a bill that would end any early voting on weekends and require that it occur only on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., with a total time limit of 45 hours of early voting a week,” Murphy writes. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told Murphy that under the time constraint the number of people voting early in Big Bend in 2012 would have had 47 minutes per person to vote compared to Milwaukee where you would have a person voting every nine seconds.
Murphy correctly points out that in 2011 Scott Walker and state Republicans cut back the early-voting period from three weeks, including three weekends, to two weeks, including one weekend. That decision resulted in longer lines and lower early voting percentages in urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison. Now, Republicans are taking those restrictive measures a step further early in a crucial election year.
Republicans in the state senate should be using their last weeks of session to pass legislation that will help improve the economic security of our state’s working class families. Unfortunately, they’re too concerned with fixing the next election to bother improving the lives of Wisconsinites.