The proposed voter ID bill making its way through the state legislature will disenfranchise an untold number of rural citizens without a readily accessible Department of Motor Vehicles service center.
As currently written, SB 6 requires a voter to present either a state issued driver license or ID card, or a military ID at the polls in order to vote. The state issued forms of identification are available only at DMV service centers. Currently three Wisconsin counties lack any DMV service center, and many of the rural centers are open only a few days per month.
During the last state budget session, both the Tomah and Black River Falls DMV service centers were cut from the budget. State Rep. Mark Radcliffe worked to restore funding for the centers, but there is no guarantee they will make it through future cuts. If the nearest service center for a citizen is 50 miles away, how will they get there when they already lack a driver license? Public transportation? Ha!
The director of the Government Accountability Board recommends changes to SB 6 to allow passports and college IDs to be used, but that probably won’t help a resident of Bear Bluff or Hatfield.
The bill also requires a photocopy of ID be included with absentee ballots mailed in, disenfranchising all homebound citizens without access to a copy machine. GAB director Kennedy wisely calls for that provision to be removed as well.
Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. Mass voter fraud simply does not exist. Moving this debate beyond the traditional “demographic groups more likely to vote Democrat will be most affected by voter ID,” this bill will impede citizens of all political affiliations to exercise a fundamental right. And that is wrong.
After taking over the House, Republicans are offering token measures to cut federal spending. One is a five percent reduction in Congressional office budgets. This is not a new concept to Wisconsin legislators.
Former Senator Russ Feingold sent $3.2 million from his office budget back to the Treasury in his eighteen years as a senator.
Rep. Ron Kind has returned over a million dollars, including $118,278 in 2010, ten percent of his total office budget last year.
The Republican austerity measures are merely token as the real meat of the federal debt does not come from things like office budgets. House Republicans plan to replace the current pay-as-you-go system (which admittedly has loopholes) with a hybrid that only requires new spending to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Tax cuts that formerly required spending cuts (or new revenue from another source) are now fair game, completely unfunded, and damn the debt increase that comes as a result.
A cut, however small, is still a cut. Banning earmarks in House (sort of), despite the relatively small portion of the federal budget they represent, is a good start for Republicans.
Of course that’s not new to Wisconsin lawmakers either. In their 18 and 14 years in Congress, respectively, neither Russ Feingold or Ron Kind have ever requested an earmark.
Senator-elect Ron Johnson hired lobbyist Don Kent as his chief of staff last month. Now in an attempt to downplay that blatant hypocrisy Johnson claims, “I don’t think I ever even mentioned the word ‘lobby’ during our campaign.”
At issue is a Washington Post report of new GOP legislators hiring the Washington insiders they attacked on the campaign trail.
This incident is going to be one of many in which Johnson uses his political inexperience to avoid accountability.
Johnson’s campaign attacked Russ Feingold for ties to a lobbyist here and here, and this is only looking at the press releases from his campaign site.
Is Johnson going to say, “that wasn’t me, that was my campaign” and if so, who is going to speak for Ron Johnson when he gets to Washington?
His ex-Michele Bachmann communication director Mary Vought?