With one stroke of his pen at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 25, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin stripped hundreds of thousands of his state’s citizens of their constitutional right to vote. Despite no systematic evidence of voter fraud, Walker and his GOP allies decided to make voter suppression a top priority for the state, fast-tracking the bill before recall elections could occur against Republican Senators this summer and further illustrating that many in the Legislature are working for themselves instead of the people of Wisconsin.
According to a 2005 study by UW Milwaukee Driver License Status of Voting Age Population those without state-issued photo ID who would need to obtain one to vote include:
- 23% of elderly Wisconsinites over the age of 65
- 17% of white men and women
- 55% of African American males and 49% of African American women
- 46% of Hispanic men and 59% of Hispanic women
- 78% of African American males age 18-24 and 66% of African American women age 18-24
“Why are we making it harder for the people of Wisconsin to participate in their democracy?” asked Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Why are we confusing voters, disenfranchising voters and denying thousands of Wisconsinites their voice in the electoral process? I had hoped that in 2011, the principle of universal suffrage would be beyond debate but in Scott Walker’s world that is not the case. We need our elected officials to focus on job creation and a fair economy, not address a manufactured problem of voter fraud.”
Said Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt: “It is clear that the intentions behind the voter suppression law are to silence large portions of the population who tend to vote against Republicans. Act 22 will deny access to the polls for many legitimate voters who have every right to cast their ballots and have them counted. To make it more difficult for someone to be heard in a democracy, simply because you do not like what they have to say is shameful.”
In his May 20 speech at the National Press Club, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka highlighted this Wisconsin bill as further efforts by the governor to silence the voice of those who disagree with his overreaching agenda.
“All these incredible events should be understood as part of a single challenge,” Trumka said. ” It is not just a political challenge—it’s a moral challenge. Because these events signal a new and dangerous phase of a concerted effort to change the very nature of America—to turn this into an ‘I’ve got mine’ nation and replace the land of liberty and justice for all with the land of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.”