Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why Wisconsin Republicans Insisted on an Election in a Pandemic

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Reid J. Epstein writes in the NY Times:

Tuesday’s mess of an election in Wisconsin is the culmination of a decade of efforts by state Republicans to make voting harder, redraw legislative boundaries and dilute the power of voters in the state’s urban centers.

The Republican-dominated state legislature, which has held a majority since 2011, due in part to gerrymandered maps, refused to entertain the Democratic governor’s request to mail absentee ballots to all voters or move the primary. Then the State Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices, overturned the governor’s ruling to postpone the election until June.

Now Wisconsin is conducting an election that the state’s largest newspaper — which previously endorsed Republican leaders including former Gov. Scott Walker — called “the most undemocratic in the state’s history.”

Here’s a look at how it came to this point.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders are on the ballot in Wisconsin, but the main event is the State Supreme Court race between the conservative incumbent justice, Daniel Kelly, and a liberal challenger, Jill Karofsky.

The winner will be in position to cast a deciding vote on a case before the court that seeks to purge more than 200,000 people from Wisconsin’s voter rolls — in a state where 2.6 million people voted in the last governor’s race. When the matter was first before the court in January, Mr. Kelly recused himself, citing his upcoming election. He indicated he would “rethink” his position following the April election, which comes with a 10-year term.

But the election proceeding on Tuesday is not just about the voter purge case. It is the latest example of what many in the state see as a decade-long effort by Wisconsin Republicans to dilute the voting power of the state’s Democratic and African-American voters.

Since 2011, when Mr. Walker led a Republican takeover of the state government, the G.O.P. has enacted one of the nation’s strictest laws requiring government-issued identification to vote. In 2020, a voter must have a photo ID with a current address, or an ID and acceptable proof of residency — often a hardship for poorer black Milwaukee residents who live in neighborhoods with some of the highest eviction rates in the country. A 2017 study by the University of Wisconsin found nearly 17,000 registered voters were unable to cast a ballot during the 2016 election, and untold more were deterred from voting.

The Republican majority also drew legislative and congressional boundaries that are widely considered the most gerrymandered in the country. During the 2018 election, Democratic candidates won 190,000 more votes for State Assembly seats, but the G.O.P. held a 64-35 advantage in the chamber.

Forty Republican lawmakers on Monday wrote to Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, asking him to reopen the state’s golf courses.

If Mr. Kelly wins, it would cement the conservative majority’s ability to block any future Democratic efforts to change voting laws and litigate an expected stalemate over congressional and state legislative boundaries during redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.

Wisconsin is, by many projections, a key state for clinching an Electoral College victory. And in the last four years it has seen some of the closest statewide races in the country.

In 2016, President Trump won the state by less than 23,000 votes.

In 2018, Mr. Evers ousted Gov. Walker by less than 30,000 votes.

In 2019, a State Supreme Court race was decided by just 6,000 votes.

In a state so closely divided, any adjustment to voting procedures or voter eligibility has the potential to swing enough votes to tip the state.

This is truly a mystery that has consumed Democrats both inside and outside Wisconsin.

For weeks Gov. Evers insisted . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2020 at 4:01 pm

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