MADISON, Wis. — In testimony in the federal voting rights case, One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v. Gerald Nichol et. al., experts agreed that, “it’s working” when it comes to the five year campaign by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature to suppress votes in Wisconsin. Their analysis follows the earlier testimony of a top Republican legislative aide who revealed several GOP state senators were ”giddy” at the prospect of passing a voter ID law they believed would suppress votes and help them win elections.
“The five year assault on voting rights in Wisconsin, perpetrated by Gov. Walker and the Republican led legislature, was intended to give themselves an unfair political advantage by making it more difficult for minorities, young people and lower income earners to vote,” commented One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross. “Based on the testimony of experts who have analyzed the data and are working on the front lines administering our elections, it’s working.”
City of Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht testified on the impacts of the the requirement and other voting law changes on Milwaukee voters, especially minorities and low income residents. He noted a significant rise in the percentage by which voter turnout percentages in the City of Milwaukee trailed the rest of the state from elections in Spring 2008 to Spring 2016, jumping from less than two percent to nearly ten percent.
He was followed by Professor Barry Burden whose extensive analysis showed the recent, dramatic changes to state election law have resulted in significantly lower rates of electoral participation by groups targeted for suppression by the GOP – younger, poorer and minority voters that tend to support Democrats.
Also sharing expert insight from the front lines of election administration was Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl. She explained how the GOP’s election law changes are resulting in longer lines at polling places on election day and voters being denied the ability to cast their ballots. Polling places now need over twice as many staff to administer elections and early voting is down due to new restrictions.
Ross concluded, “While it might be working for Republicans, the assault on voting is not working for Wisconsin. The efforts to manipulate election laws for the personal political advantage of Gov. Walker and the GOP are corrosive to our democracy, discriminatory in their impact and impermissible under federal voting rights law.”