Wisconsin Republicans have made it clear they'll continue their crusade to make it difficult to vote.
Even after it's been documented that voter ID laws and restrictions on absentee voting enacted in recent years by Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-dominated Legislature serve to dissuade thousands from going to the polls, party stalwarts made it clear last weekend that they have no shame.
Delegates to the state convention voted overwhelmingly to pursue legislation that would end the state's 40-year practice of allowing state citizens to register to vote on election day. The delegates in essence seconded Walker's suggestion during a speech in California last fall in which he claimed Wisconsin would be "much better" without it. Instead, voters would be required to register at least 10 days before the polls open.
The delegates' decision drew an angry reaction from Wisconsin Voices, a statewide collaboration of 53 organizations that advocate for voting rights, which pointed out that in the 2016 elections 381,444 Wisconsinites registered on election day.
"We should make it easier for people to vote in a democracy, not harder," said Shauntay Nelson, the organization's democracy director. "This is just the latest push by the Republican Party of Wisconsin to set up high hurdles on the way to the voting booth," she added.
How true. I personally find it repugnant that any politician, regardless of party, would work to make it more difficult for an American citizen to exercise their democratic right to vote. It goes against everything that this country has stood for since its founding.
The GOP delegates weren't through with their brazen attempt to suppress the vote. In addition to the call to end same-day registration, they passed another resolution urging the Legislature to require "temporary residences" to vote at their "permanent" addresses.
"This one was clearly aimed at students and younger voters," said Nelson. "Both of these resolutions are shameless attacks on civic participation and the bedrock principle of our democracy: that every citizen has the right to vote."
Should Wisconsin do away with same-day registration, it likely would have to enact so-called "motor-voter," a requirement by the federal government to allow people to register when getting their driver's licenses. But the shortcomings of that system are already glaring, not the least of which is that many people don't have driver's licenses in the first place.
But, no matter. Wisconsin's GOP establishment has long been in the business of tilting the field in their favor because, after all, they have the power. That goes for everything from the voting booth to the gerrymandering of legislative districts.
Playing fair is no longer the party's goal.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. email@example.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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