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Legislatively Speaking

Wisconsin GOP Moves Bad Voting Bills

Lena C. Taylor

This week, Wisconsin Republicans doubled down on foolishness. Introducing legislation, holding hearings and voting on a number of bills that seek to diminish the rights of others, they have been on a roll. Working to roll back voting protections, roll back voter engagement and roll the country back to circa 1950, all while wrapping themselves in the flag and faith, they have decided to try and maintain power at all costs.

Since I mentioned faith, I decided to see how the Bible addresses the term “foolish or foolishness.” Proverbs 19:3 says that foolishness is counterproductive: “A person’s own folly leads to their ruin.” I couldn’t agree more. The political strategy, exercised by Republicans nationally, to prop up the 2020 election lie initiated by Donald Trump is certainly going to be to the detriment of the GOP.

Don’t get me wrong, long before Trump and right here in Wisconsin, we saw Republican Gov. Scott Walker willing to carry water for the Koch brothers’ conservative agenda. Photo or voter ID was introduced to reduce democratic voter turnout. In 2016, former Wisconsin State Sen. Glen Grothman, was optimistic about Wisconsin electing a Republican candidate because as he said “And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”

What is the difference you ask – VOTER SUPPRESSION! The secret is in the sauce, though. Stirring the pot was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, who recently said Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election, if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. The county Paxton was hell-bent on blocking was Harris County, which encompasses the City of Houston, leans heavily Black and is a Democratic stronghold.

Whether Texas, Florida, Georgia or Wisconsin, fake “voter protection “bills are being passed and signed into law with one purpose in mind, Republican self-preservation. I mean, I get it! The Tea Party, Q-Anon, supporters that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Even though Trump got 12 million more votes in 2020, than he did in 2016, people are not beating the doors down to join the Republican Party. It’s hard for Republicans to maintain control without putting their finger on the scale, drawing unfair district lines, or thinning the voting population.

The bills this week were about discouraging voter participation, making it harder for communities of color, older and younger adults, people living in urban communities, and even members of the faith community, to vote. As opposed to having a message that resonates with voters, Republicans dusted off the bar of soap and told voters to count the bubbles. They symbolically filled a jar with jelly beans and made guessing how many were in the jar, our access to the ballot.

They dressed up discriminatory voting practices, gave them a facelift and a new name – ballot security. Rather than tell the truth, that their guy lost, fair and square, they are foolishly encouraging fear and distrust of our nation’s voting system. Wisconsin election officials identified just 27 potential cases of voter fraud out of 3.3 million ballots cast in the November. Republicans are fooled by short term gains. However, the lasting damage is dangerous and foolish.

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