“We Should Be Encouraging More People to Vote, Not Discouraging Them.”

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In a recent guest column for the Herald Times Reporter, Manitowoc County Clerk, Jamie Aulik lent some insight into that county’€™s recent elections. “In last February’s presidential preference primary and April’s general election, the voter turnout for all eligible voters in Manitowoc County was 34 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Given those statistics, we should be encouraging more people to vote, not discouraging them.”

Aulik wrote his column in opposition to the Voter ID requirements supported by the Herald Times Reporter and Wisconsin’€™s Ninth District State Senator Joe Leibham (Manitowoc is located within the district). Aulik doesn’€™t believe voter fraud is a real problem and accurately pointed out that there is no evidence to show that a Voter ID requirement could have prevented the negligible number of voter fraud instances in Wisconsin. ‘€œIf you really want to rig an election,’€ he wrote, ‘€œthe best way to do it is to commit election fraud, not voter fraud.’€

Aulik should also be praised for pointing out that fraudulent voters aren’€™t the real enemies of the electoral process. The real enemies’€”ones that actually could affect outcomes in elections’€”are those politicians that try to exploit our own election laws in order to deny people the right to vote. He then noted the need for a paper trail for every vote and emphasized the importance of poll worker training. He ended the column with these words: ‘€œEncouraging people to vote and reducing human error, that is an excellent formula to have successful and fair elections.’€

Yet, as the general election approaches, I can already hear the ringing of bells from conservative alarmists who insist there is an attack on the electoral process. Despite the dismal voter turnout that has come to characterize the American electoral process, it appears the alarmists are under the impression that turnout is suspiciously high, and ex-felons and persons without a picture ID are to blame. To be honest though, a person should be more afraid of the harm that will be wrought on the election process by ill-conceived voter ID policies than by (gasp) felons.

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Cody currently oversees online communications, web development, and graphic design at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, having served previously as Deputy Research Director.