Conservative Grassroots Upset Over GOP Elections Bill

MacIver News Service | June 11, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin Republicans are facing harsh criticism from their grassroots over changes to an elections bill that took out voter ID provisions and would allow new voters to register online.

Dane County Courts have blocked the current Voter ID law, and Assembly Bill 225 initially contained modifications to address the courts’ concerns. The original bill would have allowed certain veteran identification cards to be used to vote, created specific exemptions for some individuals who would not be required to show an ID, and required a local official to be charged with a crime to be recalled.

The substitute amendment that was adopted on Monday in the Committee for Campaigns and Elections removes all of this language and doubles the campaign contribution limits for statewide candidates and creates an online system for voter registration.

The online voter registration system would be a secure internet site maintained by the Government Accountability Board (GAB).

Ardis Cerny of the group We’re Watching told the MacIver News Service that the substitute amendment would make current problems within the GAB even worse.

“GAB has shown us time and again that voter access is of the utmost importance and voter integrity is for the most part ignored,” she said. “Does anyone remember that these are the same people who allowed Hitler and Mickey Mouse to sign the recall petitions? How our legislators could trust these same people to implement this new online program is beyond me.”

Another elections watchdog, Steve Welcenbach, was also concerned with the GAB’s ability to handle the additional responsibility of supervising an online registration system.

“What we REALLY need is to purge the list of bogus voters – people no longer living in the area, bad addresses, falsified registrations of the past, etc. But since the GAB can’t even confirm whether a recall petition signature is legally valid, and they of course would be charged with this implementation, why would we ever think this would lead to an improvement?” he said.

Rumors are circulating that the reason the Assembly Bill was changed was because Republican senators refused to vote on a bill that fixed problems with Voter ID.

“I have been told that the Senate would not have taken up the original Omnibus Bill. One of the reasons given was that they are unsure of whether or not they need a new Photo Voter ID Bill or if they should hold out for the courts to move and hope the bill will pass Supreme Court muster,” Cerny explained.

Radio talk show host Mark Belling talked about this bill on his show on Monday. He referred to a conversation he had with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) in which Vos said that the original voter ID provision and other items will be taken up in separate legislation in the fall.