The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Wisconsin GOP Seeks to Deny Even More Zombies the Vote

The Zombie Rights Campaign is a nonpartisan advocacy organization, but we’re not afraid to call out political figures when they do wrong by the Differently Animated, and so today we’re putting Republicans in Wisconsin on notice: stop your scheme to make it harder for Zombies to vote!

Oh, sure, liberal commenters see this as an attack on poor and urban voters, who traditionally lean (heavily) Democratic, but I think they’re missing the larger issue:

Immediately after taking power in Wisconsin, the Republican party has launched an effort to make it harder for people to vote, especially low income individuals who are the least likely to have drivers licenses. They are pushing for both a law and an amendment to the state Constitution to require a photo ID to vote.

The official reason for these changes would be to stop “voter fraud”, which is acually extremely rare. It is impossible not to conclude that the real goal for the Republicans is to unnecessarily make it much harder for traditionally Democratic-leaning groups like young, urban, and low income individuals to exercise their constitutional right to vote. These groups are the least likely to have up-to-date local drivers licenses.

Mr. Walker is right – voter fraud is so rare it’s completely irrelevant to American politics. No election has been stolen with actual voter fraud in many decades; it just doesn’t happen. It’s too hard to coordinate, too easy to uncover, in our more connected age. In the old days, sure, both parties would stoop so far as to preprint ballots, bus voters from polling place to polling place so they could vote many times over, and other nefarious tactics. In fact, it used to be legal to outright bribe voters with things like liquor. Times have changed though, and voter fraud, that is to say actual people casting actual fake or excess ballots, it’s just not a factor in modern American politics. You’ll get a handful of stray votes in a major contest, mostly from people who didn’t know they were ineligible to vote.

The New York Times talked about this back in 2007:

WASHINGTON, April 11 — Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.

120 cases, nationwide, most of them stemming from honest mistakes. That’s not even in one year, that’s from 2002 through 2006. In other words, there are about 24 cases a year of actual, indicted voter fraud in the United States.

Contrast that with the regular and incredibly large number of votes that are thrown out each national election in the United States:

In Ohio, during the 2004 Presidential election, 153,237 ballots were simply thrown away — more than the Bush “victory” margin. In New Mexico the uncounted vote was five times the Bush alleged victory margin of 5,988. In Iowa, Bush’s triumph of 13,498 was overwhelmed by 36,811 votes rejected. The official number is bad enough — 1,855,827 ballots cast not counted, according to the federal government’s Elections Assistance Commission. But the feds are missing data from several cities and entire states too embarrassed to report the votes they failed to count.

Correcting for that under-reporting, the number of ballots cast but never counted goes to 3,600,380. Why doesn’t your government tell you this?

Hey, they do. It’s right there in black and white in a U.S. Census Bureau announcement released seven months after the election — in a footnote. The Census tabulation of voters voting in the 2004 presidential race “differs,” it reads, from ballots tallied by the Clerk of the House of Representatives by 3.4 million votes.

So what’s the story here? Why are Republicans focused so intently on voter fraud, which the evidence shows doesn’t really exist, and nobody cares about millions of actual votes thrown in the garbage?

Well, it has to do with demographics. As Greg Palast outlines in his piece ‘A Recipe for a Cooked Election’, quoted immediately above, these tossed votes are overwhelmingly more likely to occur in minority precincts, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

Why don’t Democrats care? Well, in part, Democrats suck at political messaging, but in part it’s because the people who make the ‘faulty’ machines do things like this:

New Mexico’s Secretary of State, Rebecca Vigil-Giron, seemed curiously uncurious about Hispanic and Native precincts where nearly one in ten voters couldn’t be bothered to choose a president.

Vigil-Giron, along with Governor Bill Richardson, not only stopped any attempt at a recount directly following the election, but demanded that all the machines be wiped clean. This not only concealed evidence of potential fraud but destroyed it. In 2006, New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled the Secretary of State’s machine-cleaning job illegal — too late to change the outcome of the election, of course.

Vigil-Giron, after putting a stop to the recount, rather than schlep out to investigate the missing vote among the iguanas and Navajos, left the state to officiate at a dinner meeting in Minneapolis for her national association. It was held on a dinner boat. The tab for the moonlight ride was picked up by touch-screen voting machine maker ES&S Corporation. Breakfast, in case you’re curious, was served by touchscreen maker Diebold Corp.

Nice work if you can get it, huh?

In the United States, in a major election year, millions of votes are thrown away, and, assuming we only catch 1% of voter fraudsters, perhaps 2400 fake votes are cast, most of those by accident. The votes miscast and the votes thrown out both tend to be Democratic ones, and the effect of persecuting honest mistakes is similar to that of tossing out votes: it tends to disenfranchise or scare off Democratic voters.

Which brings us back to Wisconsin. The GOP just took over state government here, and they have a tenuous grasp on it to say the least. Governor Scott Walker’s disastrous game of chicken with the Obama administration over high-speed rail money turned out badly, and the state lost about 800 million dollars in federal money to build a high speed rail line that we need quite badly; for whatever reason, Amtrak never came to the state capital here in Madison. Ooops.

During the election, Walker lied and bamboozled voters, claiming he could call Obama’s bluff and get to use that money to repave our roads instead, saving the state the cost of doing so. He was wrong, he lost, and now thousands of people who would have had jobs building the railroad get to watch that money go to Illinois and other states.

Walker, by the way, ran on creating jobs.

Thus you can see why they’re a bit worried about the next election, and might want to throw out Democratic votes to make it a bit easier for Republicans to stay in office. Their plan, however, impacts Zombie voters as well, which makes it not just unjust but a subset of the ZRC’s Sacred Cause:

Madison — Republicans plan a two-pronged approach to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, with the quick passage of a bill followed by an attempt to amend the Wisconsin Constitution that would make it difficult to undo the ID requirement.

Republicans who control the Legislature argue that requiring photo ID at the polls is a common-sense way to stop voter fraud. Democrats say there is no evidence of widespread fraud and such a measure will make it harder for some people to vote.

“What this bill is going to do is make it harder for legitimate voters to vote,” said Rep. Joe Parisi (D-Madison).

Parisi, who ran elections when he was Dane County clerk, said the changes would make the jobs of poll workers more difficult. He argued that a photo ID requirement would encounter constitutional challenges because large numbers of African-Americans in Milwaukee do not have driver’s licenses.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), an avid supporter of the photo ID requirement, said lawmakers are debating whether to move rapidly on photo ID or wait to develop a larger elections package that could include eliminating election-day registration.

Wisconsin is one of nine states that allow voters to register at the polls, which observers credit with boosting voter turnout.

Momentum is building among Republicans to eliminate the practice. Leibham said he supports getting rid of it, and Stone said he is open to the idea.

“Voting’s a right, but there’s also a responsibility to voting,” Leibham said.

It’s fairly obvious how this impacts the poor, or voters without driver’s licenses, or voters who move a lot (like college kids). Yes, you can get a free ID card; if you’re willing to wait in line for hours at the DMV, then wait who knows how long to get it printed, who knows how long in advance. This tends to hit poor voters harder, and urban voters, many of whom don’t have cars, harder still. For car-owning rural and suburban voters, there is of course virtually no impact at all.

The same-day registration thing is even more nefarious, because registering can be cumbersome, especially if you move frequently, like college students do, for example, or if you simply don’t get interested in the election until late in the cycle, which is your right. Wisconsin lets you register at the polls themselves, which boosts turnout and makes things easier on everyone. It also makes it easier for Democratic voters to cast ballots, which is why the state Republicans want it gone.

It’s fairly easy to see how provisions that benefit poor, urban or young voters also benefit Zombies. Let’s say you die two weeks before election day. You revive after a few days or a week, and you’ve got a problem now; your address, your ID cards, your registration? They’re all invalid! It’s hard enough to get anyone to give a new Zombie the time of day, can you imagine explaining to a voter registration bureaucrat that you need to get re-registered in a hurry because you’re really eager to cast a ballot for Governor?

That is, assuming they even ALLOW you to register, being a Zombie and all. Many officials would simply turn you away. Or whip out a shotgun and go Woody Harrelson on you.

Whereas, if you can vote without The Man’s approved ID, with easy, quick registration at the polls (where the workers tend to be very understanding and strike me as Zombie Friendly types)? The Zombie vote stands a far better chance at getting through.

The Zombie Rights Campaign is therefore calling on Wisconsin Republicans to own up to their failure to convince the electorate that, say, devastating our economy and throwing thousands of out of work is a good plan, and instead of disenfranchising the Differently Animated, DO something, anything, to try and win back the voters who you now seem convinced will spurn you in the upcoming election cycles.

It just wouldn’t be an election without Zombie voters; just ask Chicago, home of the Horror Society and longtime Zombie Voter bastion.

Hopefully this plan will fail and things won’t get any harder for the stalwart and civic-minded Differently Animated community here in Wisconsin.

About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine + 9 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>