by Bob Cesca
Whenever I write about voter ID laws, I get the sense your eyes glaze over and you click to something else. I get it. It's not a particularly sexy topic and it won't be shared by thousands of you, despite the fact that it speaks directly to why Democratic politicians will have a hell of a time winning elections, now and well into the future. In terms of electoral politics, voter ID remains the biggest existential threat to free and fair elections in America, perhaps second only to Russia's ongoing war against us.
Objectively speaking, it could very well be that Donald Trump was elected due to the existence of voter ID laws. Let's take a look at Wisconsin, which miraculously flipped from blue to red for the first time since 1984. Hell, Mike Dukakis won Wisconsin in 1988, and he barely won any states. So did John Kerry. It's been forever since a Republican presidential candidate won there. How the hell, then, did Trump win?
Keep reading. This will blow your mind.
The Wisconsin voter ID law was passed during the 2014 mayhem in Madison when 14 Democratic lawmakers walked out to protest Gov. Scott Walker's Republican attack on unions and the state budget. While the Dem legislators, known as the "Wisconsin 14," were hiding out nearby, blocking a necessary quorum, Republican leadership pushed the bill through the state senate. Eventually, the Supreme Court would refuse to take up the case, effectively upholding an appellate court ruling in support of the law.
Consequently, 2016 became the first presidential election in which Wisconsinites would be required to show a photo ID in order to vote. The way the system works is that if you don't have a driver's license, you're required to attain a special voter ID card from the state. In order to get that card, you have to present all of the following forms of identification:
- Proof of name and date of birth, for example, a certified U.S. birth certificate, valid passport or certificate of naturalization.
- Proof of identity (usually a document with a signature or photo).
- Proof of Wisconsin residency.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, legal permanent resident status, legal conditional resident status or legal temporary visitor status. (See ID Petition Process if fees arise in order to obtain free ID card for voting).
- Your social security number.
Again, you need all of these other forms of ID in order to get a voter ID. In other words, these other documents are valid enough to get an ID to vote, but not valid enough to present at a polling place to vote. Yeah. This is how colossally fucked up the Wisconsin law really is. Obviously, the point isn't about thwarting voter fraud, given how a probe into the 2004 election in Wisconsin discovered there was only a 0.0002 percent rate of in-person voter fraud. That's exactly seven cases out of three million votes cast. And those seven cases weren't even real ones -- they involved former prison inmates trying to vote even though they lost that right when they were convicted.
The point, therefore, isn't to protect the integrity of the voting process. There's no real enemy here, given how no fraud exists. This is all about suppressing Democratic voters. How do we know this? Back in 2012, State Senate Minority Assistant Leader Glenn Grothman, a Republican, blurted out the truth on the Alan Keyes radio show.
KEYES: If it were upheld and in place in time for the November election, do you think — polls have shown a pretty razor-thin margin — do you think it might ultimately help Romney’s campaign here in the state?
GROTHMAN: Yes. Right. I think we believe that insofar as there are inappropriate things, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.
KEYES: So if these protections are in place of voter ID, that might ultimately help him in a close race?
GROTHMAN: Right. I think if people cheat, we believe the people who cheat are more likely to vote against us.
But there isn't any evidence of "inappropriate things" anywhere. So how the hell can Grothman know that Democrats are somehow more responsible for them? Clearly, he can't know because there aren't any statistically significant numbers or prosecutions or arrests indicating anything. I mean, this is like saying, Let's pass an anti-hobbit law! Even though hobbits don't exist, they're totally gonna steal your veggies and hurl your jewelry into volcanoes. Yeeehaw! Fuck hobbits!
Ari Berman, writing for Mother Jones, brings us yet another mind-blowing Grothman quote:
On the night of Wisconsin’s 2016 primary, GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman, a backer of the law when he was in the state Senate, predicted that a Republican would carry the state in November, even though Wisconsin had gone for Barack Obama by 7 points in 2012. “I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up,” he told a local TV news reporter, “and now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”
Jesus Christ. They're not even trying to hide it.
While we're here, who else blabbed? Via Right Wing Watch:
Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania Speaker of the House:
Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done,” he said.
John Fund, right-wing analyst:
“I think it is a fair argument of some liberals that there are some people who emphasize the voter ID part more than the absentee ballot part because supposedly Republicans like absentee ballots more and they don’t want to restrict that,” he admitted, before adding: “But the bottom line is, on good government grounds, we have to have both voter ID laws and absentee ballot laws.” (Indeed, while all types of voter fraud are extremely rare, PBS notes that “election law experts say it happens more often through mail-in ballots than people impersonating eligible voters at the polls.”)
Phyllis Schlafly, the late conservative activist:
"Democrats promote early voting for the same reason they oppose voter ID: because they view early voting as helping their side. In the absurdly long 35-day period of early voting in Ohio in 2012, Democrats racked up perhaps a million-vote advantage over Republicans before Election Day was ever reached. Republicans have been slow to realize how early voting helps the Democrats."
Fran Miller, Georgia state legislator:
'Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the [Atlanta Journal-Constitution], this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist . Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb."
Jim Greer, Florida Republican Party Chairman:
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Back to Wisconsin. The upshot is that voter turnout among African-Americans dropped by 29 percent from 2012 to 2016. While, sure, African-American turnout was strongly in support of Barack Obama in 2012, but the 29 percent drop didn't occur elsewhere, isolating Wisconsin and verifying that it was likely the ID law that did it. Further evidence via Berman's analysis shows:
More than half the state’s decline in turnout occurred in Milwaukee, which Clinton carried by a 77-18 margin, but where almost 41,000 fewer people voted in 2016 than in 2012.
A University of Wisconsin-Madison study added more specifics:
...between 12,000 and 23,000 registered voters in Madison and Milwaukee—and as many as 45,000 statewide—were deterred from voting by the ID law.
Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes, and as many as 45,000 voters were turned away due to the ridiculously pointless voter ID law there. If we also factor into the equation 51,000 Trump votes that came from Bernie Sanders supporters, while Jill Stein picked up 31,000 votes.
Conventional "Cillizzian" wisdom suggested that Hillary Clinton lost the rust belt states because she didn't bother to reach out to those voters. But in Wisconsin, there wasn't any real reason to campaign there given how, again, the last time a Republican won the state was 32 years earlier. The only reason for Hillary to have campaigned in solidly blue states like Wisconsin would've been to overcome Republican cheating in the form of voter suppression and Russian interference. So, perhaps in that regard it was a mistake for Hillary to not spend enough time or money there -- though basic fairness suggests we shouldn't blame Hillary for GOP cheating.
And that's the key factor in future elections. Not only will Democrats have to win over legitimate voters, but now they'll have to run up the score in order to compensate for gerrymandering, voter ID laws, voter purges and, yes, the continued Russian attacks. If they can somehow manage to surmount these odds, they might gain enough state votes to roll back voter ID laws and to redrawn the districts, but we're talking about massive hurdles. The Republicans aren't flinching. They're busily adding new layers of cheating on top of the ones we know about, so we can count on the fact that it's not going to end with the aforementioned firewalls.
For the left, this means being solidly unified with all-hands-on-deck for each and every goddamn election day, including primaries, odd-year votes and special elections. There'sno wiggle room for pet issues or intra-party bickering. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't serious and should be summarily ignored. It's do or die time.