Sabotaging Democracy Costing Republicans Millions
We may never be able to stop Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators from lying about their attempt to sabotage democracy by destroying voting rights, but it warms our hearts to see it’s costing them millions of dollars. That’s the real reason behind a bizarre proposal from the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to try to decrease the value of the free state IDs Wisconsin is now required to provide to voters.
Before Walker took office, state IDs were a tidy, little, multimillion-dollar business for Wisconsin. In fiscal 2010, sales of state IDs brought in $3.2 million in revenue. Anyone without a driver’s license or other official identification had to pay $28 for an ID card to get into bars, open a bank account or cash a check. Then, in 2011, Walker and Republicans passed a strict voter photo ID law, claiming it was necessary to prevent voter fraud.
That was a lie and Republicans knew it.
Out of more than a billion votes cast nationally over 15 years beginning in 2000, a study found an infinitesimal 31 credible instances of voter impersonation. But 300,000 Wisconsin voters could be disenfranchised for not having the proper ID, according to court testimony.
The major result so far of that unnecessary, undemocratic law was that revenue from selling state IDs plummeted. By fiscal 2015, sales were down 86% to $437,000. That’s because Wisconsin is now required to provide free IDs for voting. It’s unconstitutional for states to require voters to pay to vote.
IDs Worthless for Actual Identification
There’s nothing Republicans hate more than giving free stuff to poor people and working class people who are just going to vote Democratic anyway. It’s not like passing out millions to the wealthy who reward you with some really nice financial kickbacks. But if Republicans want to sabotage democracy by preventing those who support the other party from voting, it’s gonna cost them.
That’s why Republicans long for America the way it used to be—when racists could make blacks pay to vote. After the 15th Amendment gave African Americans the right to vote in 1870, many Southern states passed racist Jim Crow poll taxes. The tax applied to those voting after 1870 but exempted anyone who’d had the right to vote previously, so only blacks had to pay. Those were the days.
The U.S. Supreme Court finally outlawed those brazenly racist laws as unconstitutional in 1937.
So, when Walker and other Republicans around the country revived the idea of preventing racial minorities from voting by requiring a photo ID many didn’t possess, states had to provide free IDs to anyone who needed them for voting.
All Republicans really wanted to do was disenfranchise constituencies that voted strongly Democratic—racial minorities, the poor, students and the elderly. But all that did was make those groups mad and more determined than ever to vote. And now they’re getting free IDs. That’s pretty funny.
Even funnier is the ridiculous proposal from Walker’s DMV to try to discourage citizens from getting a free ID instead of paying $28 to buy one. They want to stop citizens from using the free one to buy a beer or cash a check.
The first suggestion was to stamp across the front of the state’s free ID: “VOTING PURPOSES ONLY.” But what does that mean? You’re the person the card says you are when you’re voting for president, governor or some other politician to represent you, but the state’s not really sure who you are the rest of the time?
If that’s true, the warning really should be much stronger; perhaps more like: “WORTHLESS FOR ACTUAL IDENTIFICATION.” But, of course, if that were true, why in the world would the state want such an ID to be used for voting? Voter fraud isn’t a problem now, but it could become one if the state starts churning out worthless photo IDs.
Believe it or not, the DMV has actually come up with a way to make that free ID completely worthless. To cut the cost of the free IDs, the DMV is not only proposing to print them on cheaper stock, but, get ready for this, remove some of the fraud protections!
If the state wants its premium, deluxe, top-of-the-line, $28, gallery-quality photo ID to be the go-to identification card for leading U.S. financial institutions and conveyers of alcoholic beverages, it has to make the free voter ID totally unacceptable as a form of identification. And nothing is more effective in frightening profit-making businesses and institutions out of accepting ID cards as legitimate than removing fraud protections.
But then how could the state’s free ID card ever prevent voter fraud in elections? Oh, I forgot. Voter fraud isn’t really a problem in elections. Voters don’t want to risk going to prison to cast a meaningless extra vote. That was just a lie Republicans made up.