Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Republican majority in the state legislature have embarked on a radical agenda to permanently rig the vote in their favor. Here’s how they’re doing it:
1. BUST UNIONS
Despite massive protests, court challenges, and public opinion, Walker rammed through his bill to gut collective bargaining rights for state, county, municipal, and school district workers. The bill also cut off dues payments to unions now transferred through paycheck deductions known as dues check off and made workers’ payments to their union voluntary. With hefty pay cuts going into effect for most workers, unions are having a hard time getting workers to contribute.
Not yet on the books but in the works is a new state law that would affect private sector unions’ ability to collect dues money—and survive. The measure would make dues payments voluntary, even though unions have full responsibility for representation of members and administration of collective bargaining agreements.
By busting unions, the GOP eliminates the Democratic Party’s strongest, most reliable source of both financial support and “boots on the ground” for get-out-the-vote and other political activities.
2. MAKE IT TOUGHER TO VOTE
Walker’s Wisconsin now has a voter ID requirement it never had before and never needed. Over 400,000 predominately Democratic voters may be affected. The requirement weighs most heavily on minority populations, students, seniors, and the poor. It was rushed through on a partisan vote.
The law will be fully effective in January 2012; however, beginning with the current state senate recall elections, any voter unable to produce a photo ID is warned and given information about how to get one at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Voters applying for ID have encountered long lines, increased delays, and confusion, which will get worse if plans go forward to close 16 DMV offices throughout the state. The closures allegedly target offices in Democratic districts, while those in Republican districts are extending their hours. The massive new state budget includes big cuts for public transportation, so getting to the offices that remain will be all the more difficult.
As this is written a new redistricting plan is sitting on Walker’s desk waiting to be signed. It was hatched in GOP offices by GOP lawyers and rushed through in an “extraordinary session” of the legislature…with no Democratic votes and no input from communities that have yet to finalize their precincts.
The plan carves up the state into even more partisan districts, the majority of them Republican. It is so gerrymandered that it pushes some wards comprised largely of racial minorities into mostly white, Republican precincts. Some Democrats competing for state senate seats in next month’s recall elections have been conveniently cut out of their own districts, meaning that even if they win their challenge to incumbent Republicans in the upcoming August 9 recall elections, they may be ineligible to run in 2012 when the regular terms of those offices are up.
4. ELIMINATE PUBLIC FUNDING FOR CAMPAIGNS
The Walker/GOP budget that just got passed reversed 33 years of public campaign financing. Now our elections will be held hostage to wealthy contributors like the Koch brothers, making pols accountable to them, not the people. Democrats opposed the measure. Republicans voted for it.
More than $900,000 in the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund may be used to pay for implementing the new voter ID law.
With this track record, it’s unlikely that the Walker/GOP cabal will stop here—unless we stop them. Watch for recall election results on August 9.