MADISON, Wis. — After multiple reports of the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) failing to provide accurate information to legal voters about how to obtain the ID they needed to vote, a federal judge ordered Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to improve public education efforts. But in a filing with the court, the state refused to undertake several steps to help voters get the IDs they need, including utilizing billboard advertising, directly mailing legal voters the state knows lack an ID now needed to vote and establishing mobile DMV services.
“It’s especially ironic that the Walker administration would refuse to use billboards to inform legal voters about how to get an ID,” commented One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross. “After all it was the foundation run by Gov. Walker’s campaign co-chair that picked up the tab for billboards when they were targeting minority voters for intimidation intended to discourage them from voting.”
A joint investigation by theGrio news service and One Wisconsin Now uncovered that Milwaukee’s Einhorn Family Foundation was behind voter suppression billboards in Wisconsin in September 2010 and again in 2012. A review of IRS documents also revealed Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation, headed by Scott Walker’s campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, and one of the largest sources for right wing funding in America, gave the Einhorn Family Foundation a $10,000 grant, at the time the 2010 suppression billboards appeared, “to support a public education project.”
In addition, then-Milwaukee County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker directed his assistant administrator to “please help him out,” after being asked by Stephen Einhorn for information that was ultimately used in dozens of voter intimidation billboards that were placed around Milwaukee in the weeks leading up to Walker’s election as governor.
One Wisconsin Institute is the lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, One Wisconsin Institute, et. al. v. Thomsen, et. al. that struck down numerous anti-voter laws passed by Gov. Walker and the Republican controlled legislature in Wisconsin. Among the measures struck down by the federal court were severe restrictions on the hours early in-person voting could be offered and the days on which early voting could occur.
Municipalities across the state have been able to offer early voting since ballots first became available. Under the previous law that was struck down, early voting would not have been able to occur prior to today. According to statistics compiled by the Wisconsin Election Commission, through October 21, 148,767 early in-person votes have been cast.
Ross concluded, “The strong early voting totals show that, given the opportunity, Wisconsin voters want to make their voices heard in our elections. It’s too bad Gov. Walker’s administration still seems to be more focused on ways to keep people from participating than educating them on what they need to cast a ballot.”