MADISON, Wis. — Lawyers representing One Wisconsin Institute made their closing statements today in the federal voting rights lawsuit One Wisconsin Institute Inc., et. al. v. Gerald Nichol, et. al. Over the course of the trial, the plaintiffs showed how a series of election law changes made by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican led state legislature were meant to and have the effect of making it more difficult to vote in Wisconsin, especially for minorities, young people, and voters who tend to support Democratic candidates.
“Gov. Walker and his legislative cohorts have made it easier for Republicans to cheat and harder for Democrats to vote,” commented One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross. “The people behind the laws we are challenging intend to give themselves partisan advantage by suppressing the votes of African Americans, Latinos, and young voters — and the evidence at trial showed it’s working.”
The lawsuit is challenging the voter ID law and other measures like restrictions on early voting hours and locations, elimination of special registration deputies, additional absentee ballot requirements and a prohibition on weekend voting adopted by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican controlled legislature. Judge James Peterson who heard the case has indicated he may issue his ruling by the end of July.
Over the course of the two-week court trial, testimony from a Republican insider revealed that, in their private deliberations, GOP state Senators were “giddy” over the prospects of passing a law they believed would discourage voting and help them win elections. The witness, under oath, testified current Republican Senate President Mary Lazich “told her colleagues to consider its impact in the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and the state’s college campuses.”
Expert testimony showed that the voter ID law had the effect of discouraging electoral participation among targeted groups and how the GOP has displayed a “consistent pattern” of using allegations of voter fraud for political gain. Numerous witnesses and additional information provided by plaintiffs showed how actual legal voters were unable to obtain an ID now required to vote. Election administrators testified how the series of law changes creates additional barriers to voting and difficulty in running efficient polling places.
Ross concluded, “The real voting fraud in Wisconsin has been exposed, and it is these politicians manipulating the rules on voting to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage. Their actions have subverted our democracy and violate federal law.”