wisconsin capitol
Column
November 30, 2016
Posted By
Scot Ross
Executive Director
Scot Ross

Why Does Scott Walker Get a Pass on Election Lie?

Allowing Gov. Scott Walker’s Lies About Impact of Election Laws to Stand Unchallenged Hurts Our Democracy

When Donald Trump made his allegation that “millions” of illegally cast ballots are why he lost the popular vote by 2.5 million votes, the media immediately noted the utterly ridiculous nature of the statement and that it was made with absolutely no proof or basis in fact. His reckless, egomaniacal undermining of confidence in our elections has been roundly condemned.

But in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has, without proof, perpetrated another lie about our elections. He has repeatedly claimed the state voter ID requirement “…is about making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

While Trump’s claims have received scrutiny by the media, Scott Walker’s allegation has been allowed to stand, unchallenged despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact is that Walker’s statement is as demonstrably false as Trump’s, and it deserves to be denounced as such.

Ask the hundreds of voters whose voices were silenced and whose ballots were not counted on election day because they did not have an accepted form of photo identification if voter ID made it “easier” for them to vote.

Or how about the thousands more legal voters who potentially never even showed up on election day because they were among the estimated 300,000 Wisconsinites lacking an acceptable ID to be allowed to vote.

The City of Milwaukee Election Commissioner Neil Albrecht commented that the voter ID law resulted in lower turnout in the state’s largest city noting, “We saw some of the greatest declines were in the districts we projected would have the most trouble with voter ID requirements”.

When passing the voter ID law, Republicans in the legislature certainly did not intend their actions would make it easier to vote. In fact, in testimony in federal court a former Republican insider testified that GOP legislators were “giddy” at the prospect of passing a voter ID law they believed would suppress Democratic votes and help them win elections.

Consider what Federal Judge James Peterson wrote in his decision in the federal voting rights case, One Wisconsin Institute, et. al. v. Thomsen, et. al., that found the state administration of the voter ID requirement to be unconstitutional and that invalidated numerous other Republican adopted restrictions like limits on early voting hours. Peterson unequivocally opined, “None of these laws made registration or voting easier for anyone …”

He also went on to write that, “… the election laws passed between 2011 and 2014 were motivated in large part by the Republican majority’s partisan interests.”

Peterson called out the real fraud in our elections, partisan politicians like Gov. Walker and the Republican controlled legislature manipulating the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair advantage.

Allowing Scott Walker to spread misinformation about the impact of the voter ID law as he tries to cover up the electoral malfeasance in which he and his partisan cronies have engaged undermines the integrity of our elections.

By failing to hold Walker accountable for his demonstrably false assertion, the idea that restrictions on voting don’t silence the voices of legal voters and aren’t designed to give Republican politicians an unfair partisan advantage is mainstreamed.

The result is that fundamental promise of our democracy — that on election day every legal voter, regardless of age, race, gender, partisan affiliation, income bracket or religion, has an equal say — is diminished.

Unless the lies stop and the perpetrators are held accountable the consequences for our state and our nation will be tragic.

# # #

Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now and One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director since 2007, has served as a senior communications director and research strategist for numerous statewide campaigns and elected officials.

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