MADISON, Wis. — Republicans running the North Carolina state legislature are convening a special session to strip the newly elected Democratic Governor of powers held by his GOP predecessor while the Republican-led Michigan legislature rushed to try to disenfranchise legal voters with a stricter voter ID law. As these outrages make national news, One Wisconsin Now Research Director Jenni Dye noted these are just the latest outbreaks of Republicans rigging the rules, like the five year campaign of the Wisconsin GOP to change voting laws, to give themselves an unfair partisan advantage.
“It’s the same stories, different states with Republicans,” commented Dye. “North Carolina and Michigan are acting just like Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP cohorts in the Wisconsin legislature, who unleashed a five year campaign to rig the rules on voting, decimate election and ethics laws and repeal protections from cronyism, all to help them keep their grip on power.”
According to media reports the North Carolina state legislature, controlled by Republicans, is convening a special session to consolidate their power by rigging election laws and oversight to favor Republicans. Meanwhile in Michigan, the state House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, rammed through additional voter ID restrictions in a post-election lame duck session.
Under Republican control, Wisconsin has seen all these measures, and more. Upset over investigations of political corruption, state Republicans eliminated nonpartisan oversight of election and ethics laws and gave themselves special exemptions from future investigations. The state’s century old law to prevent cronyism and undue political influence on state employees was repealed. And to top it off, the state GOP waged a five year long campaign to make voting more difficult and complicated.
Dye noted that it is the words of Wisconsin Republicans themselves that reveal the true purpose of their law changes. In a federal voting rights trial that resulted in numerous anti-voter measures being struck down, testimony revealed that when debating the state voter ID law, the state Senate President and author of the bill implored her colleagues to consider the implications of the measure, specifically how it could impact voting in Democratic areas in the state’s largest city and on college campuses. Another top Republican inveighed that he wanted to win elections, and that’s why they should impose a voter ID requirement.
Unfortunately, it appears that Wisconsin Republicans meddling in election laws isn’t over with, despite rebukes by the federal courts. Before the November 2016 election was even over, top state Republicans were advocating for new restrictions to limit voter participation in elections. Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos vowed he will push to pass new limits on early voting in Wisconsin after the federal voting rights suit, One Wisconsin Institute, et. al. v. Thomsen, et. al., struck down previous limits on the days, hours and locations where early voting could occur.
Dye concluded, “They’ve done it here, they’re doing it there. They’ve done it before, they’re doing it again, and it will be no surprise to see this permanent power grab playbook repeated here, in other states, and in Washington, D.C. Republicans have shown they have no qualms about disenfranchising voters or dismantling anti-corruption laws as they rig the rules to try to keep their grip on power.”