As the final days of legislative session come to a close, Wisconsin editorial boards are nearly unanimous in their opposition to Republican voter suppression bills passed last week in the dead of night.
To date, five papers around the state have voiced strong opposition to the bill for it’s obvious partisan intent and anti-democratic efforts to keep voters at home on Election Day. Bills should fix problems, not elections, but without any support for their failed economic agenda, Scott Walker and state Republicans are focused on disenfranchising students, seniors, veterans, minorities, the disabled, and people with low incomes in order to win in November.
Senate Republicans refused to debate the bill on the floor of the legislature without giving any reason as to why, Milwaukee journalist Bruce Murphy offers the best possible explanation, “Might that be because they could not counter the arguments of Democrats?” Republican arguments simply can’t stand up to the very real and harmful consequences the new restrictions will pose.
Murphy acknowledges those consequences and questions the motives of state Republicans, juxtaposing their voting restrictions with the reality of voting in large urban areas. “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.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also opined against the passage of voting restrictions, exposing 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.” Now that it sits on Walker’s desk, the Journal Sentinel has called once again for the governor to veto the bill that is all “about giving Republicans the upper hand”.
The Republican legislature’s second attempt at ending early voting since taking power in 2011 shows where exactly where their priorities lie. The majority in the legislature has done next to nothing to improve the economic security of the middle class. Their partisan games jeopardize the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people.
The Beloit Daily News agrees, writing that the Republican majority in the state legislature “has all the time in the world for its own self interest, but doesn’t have the time of day for measures with substantial backing among citizens.”
The Appleton Post Crescent also opined against the Republican obsession with voter suppression. In response to Scott Walker’s plans to call a special session on Voter ID the editorial board wrote “So, let’s get this straight. Jobs are a huge issue in Wisconsin. Economic development is a huge issue in Wisconsin. Health care costs are a huge issue in Wisconsin. But Walker has no plans to call a special session on any of those issues.”
Most recently, the Racine Journal Times joined the chorus of opposition to the Republican voter suppression bill. The editorial board references Republican Sen. Dale Schultz who commented he wasn’t “willing to defend them anymore,” when asked about his colleagues effort to make voting more cumbersome. Ultimately, the Journal Times concludes Republican legislators should “spend more time on communicating their ideas to the voters and less time trying to inhibit people from voting.”