GOP Staffer Testifies: Voter ID Laws Designed To Block Democrats

GOP Staffer Testifies: Voter ID Laws Designed To Block Democrats

Voter ID laws are a sure-fire way to disenfranchise Democratic voters and prevent them from going to the polls. Especially in Wisconsin, where Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is running for a second term and facing off against former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

What many people don’t likely know is that Johnson had a key role in protecting Wisconsin’s decidedly undemocratic voter ID law. This in a state where, by the way, you can use your NRA membership card as voter ID, but NOT your student photo ID. And that’s a pretty big clue that this is a state that suppresses Democratic voters.

In Wisconsin, Republicans were pinning their hopes on Democratic voters not having the time or the money to challenge a ruling that places a heavy burden on anyone having a difficult time securing an acceptable form of ID. Many older, poor, disabled, and transgender voters, are at the top of this list, and the majority are people of color.

But trying to prove that voter suppression is going on is difficult to do. Plaintiffs are saddled with the task of having to prove that the law was passed with voter suppression in mind.

Wisconsin Republicans were smug and were also certain that challengers weren’t up to the task. They weren’t counting on one of their own jumping ship.

A federal voting rights discrimination lawsuit has been brought against Wisconsin by several liberal groups, and the key witness is Todd Allbaugh, a former chief of staff for then-state Sen. Dale Schultz.

He provided details of a closed door meeting in 2011, testifying that Republicans wanted a voter ID bill that would suppress votes, thus helping other Republicans win elections.

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Having spoken out, Allbaugh was commended by Hillary Clinton, and he said that some Republican legislators — Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), and former Sen. Randy Hopper, (R-Fond du Lac), among them, appeared absolutely “giddy” at the possibility of suppressing votes in heavily Democratic areas such as Milwaukee, where many of the state’s black and Latino voters live.

To be fair, Allbaugh also noted that some Republicans, including Sens. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), and Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) appeared “ashen-faced” and concerned when this happened.

And Allbaugh, who opened a coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin when he left politics, shared his evidence earlier this year in a Facebook post.

In a phone interview with Talking Points Memo, he elaborated on what he found:

“It just really incensed me that they started talking about this particular bill, and one of the senators got up and said, ‘We really need to think about the ramifications on certain neighborhoods in Milwaukee and on our college campuses and what this could do for us,” Allbaugh said. “The phrase ‘voter suppression’ was never used, but it was certainly clear what was meant.”

Notably, Schultz has also spoken out against recent voting restrictions, but he voted for the 2011 bill. Allbaugh said that at this point in the meeting, Schultz brought up his own concerns about voter ID legislation.

“He was immediately shot down by another senator who said, ‘What I am interested in is getting results here and using the power while we have it, because if the Democrats were in control they would do the same thing to us, so I want to use it while we have it,” Allbaugh said.

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He noted that a frustrated Schultz left the meeting shortly after that, while he stayed on to continue taking notes.

“It left a pit in my stomach to think that a party that I had worked for for years and years and years was literally talking and plotting to deny someone, a fellow citizen, their constitutional right,” Allbaugh said.

Allbaugh was spurred to write the Facebook post when one of his young employees, who moved from California to Wisconsin, was unable to vote during the April primary. The employee’s California ID didn’t meet the state’s requirements for voting, because he would also need to show his California birth certificate, something that the young man wasn’t going to be able to come up with in time.

“Here’s a young man in his early 20’s, who is taking part and interested in voting for the first time in his life,” Allbaugh wrote in his Facebook post. “He was excited to go to the polls. What kind of a state, a legislature, a political party is it that denies this young man his right?”

And let’s not forget that it’s a state run by Governor Scott Walker, who seemed to have no problem with the fact that during Wisconsin primaries held for other state offices this year, poll workers had no difficulties in turning away a 90-year-old man who was a veteran and fought in the battle of Iwo Jima because his Veteran Identification Card was deemed “insufficient.” So, apparently it would have been okay if he died for his country, he just wouldn’t have the right to vote for president without the “sufficient” identification.

“When you see the real world ramification, it just sickens you,” Allbaugh said. “I have to tell people what’s going on.”

Reporters asked Schultz about his former colleague’s Facebook post, and the former lawmaker said that while he wouldn’t discuss what happened in a closed door meeting, he praised Allbaugh for his “honesty and integrity.” These qualities, Schultz said, were “beyond reproach.”

Now here’s where Johnson comes in. It was his obstructionism on a Seventh Circuit Appeals Court vacancy that left the court “without an 11th member who could have broken the impasse” on the voter ID requirement. The requirement was allowed to be enforced not because the full Seventh Circuit didn’t find that it disenfranchised legal voters. No, the intent to provide political gain for the Republican party at the expense of legal voters was well-known. Instead, it “was allowed to stand because the understaffed court could not break a tie on whether to re-hear the case,” Blue Nation Review reports.

And Johnson continues to obstruct by refusing to consider Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Allbaugh deserves a huge amount of credit for coming forward with this. It’s time to ask: How low can Wisconsin Republicans go? Apparently very, very low. It’s something to keep in mind come election time.

Image courtesy of Andy Manis via Getty Images

 

raptorella37@gmail.com'

Megan was born and raised in Ventura, California. She has since lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Mexico, and Costa Rica. While she has always been a liberal, her travels have informed her politics. She has worked for more than 25 years as a professional journalist writing about crime, the police, local politics, feature stories, environmental issues and a variety of other topics. She now writes for Reverb Press.

Megan supports Black Lives Matter and fights against racism, sexism, the corporatocracy, climate change deniers and others who continue to destroy the planet.

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raptorella37@gmail.com'

Megan was born and raised in Ventura, California. She has since lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Mexico, and Costa Rica. While she has always been a liberal, her travels have informed her politics. She has worked for more than 25 years as a professional journalist writing about crime, the police, local politics, feature stories, environmental issues and a variety of other topics. She now writes for Reverb Press.

Megan supports Black Lives Matter and fights against racism, sexism, the corporatocracy, climate change deniers and others who continue to destroy the planet.

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App