Judge smacks down GOP's scheme to stop people from voting in Wisconsin


Republicans can't win elections in a fair fight — so they try to rig the democratic process instead.

After Scott Walker lost his bid for re-election, Wisconsin Republicans scrambled to send him a bill to sign that would make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote in future elections.

But the law was so obviously anti-democratic that a federal judge struck it down — and said doing so was "not a close question" because the law closely resembled one he had struck down two years earlier.

The new law tried to limit the early voting period in Wisconsin to just two weeks statewide. U.S. district judge James Peterson said that this restriction, like the one he already struck down, would suppress the votes of minorities and Democrats living in large cities like Madison and Milwaukee, which hold early voting for six weeks.

Peterson ridiculed Republicans' carelessness on this point. "Defendants do not even attempt to show that there is a material difference between the number of days permitted under (the lame-duck law) and the number of days permitted under the previous law," he wrote.

Republicans passed the voter suppression legislation in a lame duck session after the 2018 midterm elections saw Democrats win every statewide offices in Wisconsin. The goal was to steal power from the incoming Democratic governor, Tony Evers, and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, with voter suppression as just one part of the plan.

"The Republican attacks on voting rights were unconstitutional when they were passed, they were unconstitutional when the judge struck them down and they are unconstitutional now," Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Institute, said in a statement. One Wisconsin Institute was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Wisconsin isn't the only state where Republicans are trying to keep people from voting.

Republicans in Georgia, led by voter suppression guru Brian Kemp, used a variety of dirty tricks to keep racial minorities from voting. In Pennsylvania, Republicans desperately tried to use voter suppression tactics to help their own party win elections. And a federal judge pointed out that Republicans in North Carolina wrote voter suppression legislation that was designed to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision."

Voting is the most foundational right in a functioning democracy — but Republicans are more than willing to break democracy if it helps them win elections.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.