I’m officially done arguing with people about whether the new photo ID law is a plan to suppress the vote in the minority community or not. Thanks to a whistle-blower in Madison, I’ve finally got my answer.
For a long time I’ve argued with readers that a photo identification law for Wisconsin wasn’t really necessary but could actually open the door for voter suppression among low-income minorities in a city like Milwaukee.
Even after Wisconsin Republicans passed the photo ID bill last May, I argued about the need to make sure it wasn’t overly restrictive or difficult to obtain. I have also pointed out my troubling racial concerns about a photo ID bill passed in a state where white Republicans currently run things. How many times have you heard the Democratic Party referred to as the main party for minorities and poor people?
When the photo ID bill passed, complaints about making it accessible were fought in Madison to the point where legislators agreed it was important to offer free photo IDs for residents who couldn’t afford the additional cost of $28, just to show their good intentions.
After the latest bombshell last week, it’s hard to believe good intentions had anything to do with it.
When a low-level state employee gets fired for blowing the whistle about a Department of Transportation policy that recommended withholding information on how to get a free photo ID from residents unless they specifically asked for it, that pretty much tells some people whatever they needed to know.
Milwaukee Ald. Ashanti Hamilton thinks the message sent by the photo ID policy is troublesome.
“I think it’s disappointing for any government body to try and disenfranchise people from voting,” said Hamilton, who spoke against the policy at a press conference with voter-rights groups last week.
Like me, Hamilton has heard Republicans fiercely deny the photo ID law has anything to do with race or voter suppression in minority communities but rather insist it’s mainly about fighting voter fraud.
The alderman disagrees.
“It’s never been a matter of voter fraud,” said Hamilton, who cited an investigative report from the Milwaukee Police Department on voting in Milwaukee in 2008 that found only minor incidents of fraud. “Voting rights have been protected.”
Hamilton is aware some well-meaning folks can’t understand why someone wouldn’t have photo ID to begin with. “There are still many people unable to sympathize with people who don’t have it,” he said.
I’ve argued with the same people. Usually, they are people unfamiliar with the myriad circumstances that account for a lack of photo ID in some communities, including unpaid traffic tickets, domestic legal situations or any number of events that, taken separately, should never prevent a citizen from voting.
Full Article: Wisconsin’s photo ID law has big image problem – JSOnline.