Wisconsin Judges Vote Absentee Ballot After Blocking Mail-in Voting Order (Video)

Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing the state’s presidential primary to June 9, as his counterparts in other states have done.

That was until the state’s Republican-majority supreme court intervened, ruling elections must be held on schedule despite the coronavirus/COVID-19 public health emergency.

Moreover, Wisconsin GOP lawmakers refused to advance vote-by-mail provisions that would prevent crowds from risking spreading contagion by reporting to the polls.

The Republican-majority United States Supreme Court sided with them.

For all their faux outrage over defending “the integrity of the election process,” it seems absentee ballots–while apparently not acceptable to the average Wisconsin voter–were perfectly fine for all seven state Supreme Court justices.

Two of those seven did so out of conscience; they were helping to do their part to “flatten the coronavirus curve”.

The others were just hypocrites.

Daniel Bice, reporting for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote:

“In the previous five elections, a majority of the justices voted in person at the polls on election day.”

And that is precisely what the Republican majority gave Wisconsinites no choice but to do.

Make no mistake: this is a test-run for November, especially since there has been serious discussion lately about nationwide mail-in paper ballots.

If there is one thing Republicans absolutely do not want, it’s more people voting.

Paul Weyrich, the  founder of conservative think tanks The Heritage Foundation, the Free Congress Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, admitted as much at a religious right gathering back in 1980:

Donald Trump publicly echoed that sentiment when he admitted during a recent interview with Fox & Friends it was good increased voting protections and ballot access proposals were omitted from last week’s coronavirus relief package because “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

A broken clock is right twice a day, as the saying goes.

The Republican party has not legitimately won the White House since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.

Even though November 2018’s mid-term election results were historic, it does not mean the GOP has forgotten how to cheat to win.

From foreign trolls and botsFox NewsSinclair Broadcasting, right-wing hate radio, dog-whistle (and not-so-dog-whistle) racismmendacious Facebook ads, and Donald Trump’s thousands of lies, the Republican party has its machine’s gears well-oiled.

Yet there is one area the Grand Old Party has identified as the country’s oft-ignored Achilles’ heel–voting.

Eleven years ago the Republican party was licking its wounds after the country elected its first African American president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

So Republicans came up with a strategy: concentrate on 16 states and gerrymander them so badly Democrats have little to no mathematical chance of winning in the 2010 mid-term elections.

But there was another, more insidious strategy.

Republicans knew they couldn’t come right out and criminalize voting, so they devised ways to make casting ballots harder, more inconvenient, and frustrating, hoping people would stay home rather than go through the rigmarole to practice their civic duty.

That’s when the term “voter fraud” started circulating around right-wing media. Simply accuse random people (mostly immigrants) of voting illegally, and enough “patriots” would rise up in an altruistic fervor to fortify the most fundamental of democratic institutions against those who seek to denigrate it.

Some (Republican) states began instituting “voter I.D.” laws, requiring birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, passports, to “protect election integrity.” After all, minorities vote primarily for Democrats. If they are to preserve their hegemony, Republicans must take evasive measures.

Voter fraud, however, is a myth.

Voter suppression is very much alive in America, and Republican states are setting a record for purging voting roles.

In December, the Associated Press (AP) published a report about Donald Trump’s re-election adviser Justin Clark admitting as much at a Nov. 21 Republican National Lawyers Association’s Wisconsin chapter event in–guess where–Madison, Wisconsin.

The AP explained:

“Both parties are pouring millions of dollars into the states, anticipating they’ll be just as critical in the 2020 presidential contest.

“Republican officials publicly signaled plans to step up their Election Day monitoring after a judge in 2018 lifted a consent decree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from voter verification and other ‘ballot security’ efforts. Critics have argued the tactics amount to voter intimidation.”

That consent decree was established after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sued the Republican National Committee (RNC) over the allegation the latter helped intimidate black voters in New Jersey’s gubernatorial election by positioning off-duty police officers at urban area polling stations wearing armbands reading “National Ballot Security Task Force”.

Some of those officers displayed visible firearms.

Now that consent decree has been lifted, “The RNC can work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best, ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program,” as RNC communications director Michael Ahrens claimed.

This comes mere days after conservative group, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, filed a lawsuit demanding Wisconsin purged 234,000 citizens from its voter rolls.

The state sent voters believed to have moved letters informing them they would be removed from voting lists if they did not respond within 30 days.

But that purge was not to take effect until 2021.

Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016.

In recent years, Republicans drew electoral districts blatantly benefiting themselvesattempted unsuccessfully to curtail early voting, and implemented an austere voter-ID law that discouraged as many as 23,252 voters in 2016 from casting ballots.

One Wisconsin Now deputy director, Mike Browne, lashed out at Clark’s remarks and the strategy to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters:

“The strategy to rig the rules in elections and give themselves an unfair partisan advantage goes to Donald Trump, the highest levels of his campaign and the top Republican leadership. It’s clear there’s no law Donald Trump and his right-wing machine won’t bend, break, or ignore to try to win the presidency.”

study from the Brennan Center for Justice reported last year that, between 2016 and 2018, at least 17 million voters were purged from nationwide voting rolls.

Voting districts with voter discrimination histories have purged 40% beyond the national average.

This is due almost entirely to the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby County vs. Holder decision that rolled back section five of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring states to receive Justice Department “pre-clearance” before initiating changes to voting laws that may impact minority voters.

The Brennan Center stated:

“As the country prepares for the 2020 election, election administrators should take steps to ensure that every eligible American can cast a ballot next November. Election day is often too late to discover that a person has been wrongfully purged.”

Just before the 2016 election, North Carolina permanently closed 158 polling places in the 40 counties comprising the most African American voters.

In 2018, the nation’s highest court decided in favor of the Eighth Circuit Court’s decision allowing North Dakota to require voters to maintain residential street address, not post-office boxes, and an accepted form of identification stating that address, a move that blatantly targets indigenous voters since many live on reservations with P.O. boxes instead of street addresses.

It also ramped up Republican voter-suppression tactics when it decided in a split 5-4 decision along partisan lines to permit Ohio’s system for stripping voters from the rolls to proceed.

Last August, it took the two-member Randolph County, Georgia elections board under one minute to vote to shutter seven predominantly African American polling places.

More than 85,000 Georgia voters were purged from rolls in just the three months leading up to election day in 2016, in what National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Derrick Johnson called “textbook voter suppression.”

And then there’s Florida, where then-Republican Governor now U.S. Senator Rick Scott teamed up with Donald Trump to accuse elections in danger of being “stolen” after Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered recounts in the Senate and gubernatorial races when unofficial results fell within the margin to legally trigger a recount.

As progressive talk show host and author Thom Hartmann wrote in “American Democracy Is on the Brink:”

“If we fail to do something large, substantial and dramatic about the scourge of voter suppression, we must all begin learning how to rivet chains.”

Republicans talk a good game about democracy and patriotism.

When it comes down to it, though, waving a flag is meaningless when one’s actions belie the very principles he or she claims to uphold.

Republicans do not want democracy.

They want an oligarchy.

But they know Americans outside the extremely wealthy do not.

So to maintain their wealthy donors’ hegemony, they try to prevent voters from exercising their fundamental right to choose whom they want to represent them.

Why else would they work so hard to suppress votes?

Why else would they court donors like the Koch brothers and Robert and Rebekah Mercer?

Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.