Wisconsin Republicans complete [another] attack on voting rights

In the last minutes of the legislature’s last session, Wisconsin Republicans decided to curb early voting. Sure, no citizens were asking for it, but somehow, mysteriously, it became a priority for Wisconsin Republicans that voting should become less convenient. Or for some people, unworkable. Particularly in the, um, urban areas, where, um, well, you know. Oh, Speaker Vos, this is sooo tricky. We can’t figure out what this is about.

Doonesbury - Jimmy Crow interview

Wisconsin newspapers again urge redistricting reform

They’re asking again, politely but firmly. Can Wisconsinites at least get a public hearing on the bills AB 185 and SB 163 to reform our rotted system for redrawing voting districts? On Sunday the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel made the case again, here and here, as they had a month earlier along with 7 other state newspapers and one TV station. Rarely have we been so interested (in a positive way) in the work of our hometown State Journal.

They’re actually trying to effect a change, and a difficult one at that. Actually it’ll be close to impossible.

While we support all this, and hope for the best, we do predict this effort will go nowhere until we get a bunch of new lawmakers. And how difficult will that be? That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it.

When the Republicans achieved total dominance in Wisconsin government, they immediately set themselves to cementing their power. They not only gerrymandered voting districts, but they went to work on voting restrictions and forced through unnecessary new ID requirements. They pushed through Act 10 destroying the most important interest group supporting their opponents. And they’re continuing to fiddle with the rules governing voting and campaign finance — more money to be allowed from big donors, and more anonymity for donors. In short, they have done what they can to rig things in their favor. And redistricting may have been, in their view, the most important and wonderful piece. The Republican majority may have a range of interests, but they certainly took care of self-interest with remarkable speed and determination.

Leaders Vos and Fitzgerald have said clearly they have no interest in revisiting their old accomplishments.

Against this we have 9 Wisconsin newspapers, one TV station, the usual good government groups (Common Cause, Wis. Democracy Campaign), and a generally sleepy, distracted, and not very well-informed citizenry. Well, the good news is… the situation’s better than usual, because of the 9 newspapers and one TV station.

But we’ll see.

Can polite-but-firm editorializing have any effect on people who (probably correctly) believe their best strategy for winning elections involves rigging some rules? Are they supposed to feel suddenly awash with shame, and decide to reverse course? That’s going to take some pretty good editorial writin’….

We’ll see.


An astonishingly GOOD editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin State Journal, August 18, 2013Regular readers of The Daily Tissue know that we regularly gripe about the editorial page of the Wisconsin State Journal. So when they do something authentically GOOD with that editorial page, we need to acknowledge it. And they did something good on Sunday with their call for at least a hearing on assembly and senate bills (AB 185 & SB 163) to replace the disgraceful, self-serving practice of legislators redrawing crazy-quilt voting districts to keep themselves in power.

Just a month ago we mocked a State Journal editorial that called for this same redistricting reform, because we figured it was a one-time silly plea to the Republican majorities to stop doing what they really, really, really want to do, and instead do the right thing. And also, too, because the Assembly leader Robin Vos (R-Rochester) had already told the WSJ editorial board directly, face to face, quote,

“It’s not gonna happen.”

So what’s different and GOOD about Sunday’s State Journal editorial calling for the same reform?

  1. They came back and hit it again.
  2. They’re calling for just a small, specific action — public hearings on the bills.
  3. They came back with allies. Seven other state newspapers (plus one TV station) are simultaneously calling for the same thing.

Now, we don’t think those public hearings are ever going to happen. And we REALLY don’t think the current Republican majorities will voluntarily cede their redistricting power. They’re working assiduously in the opposite direction, doing all they can to consolidate their own electoral safety, from voter ID, to secret redistricting, to smashing the state employee unions, and doubling the max campaign limits for individuals.

So we think it’s great that the State Journal is sticking with it, and doing it with allies. But it’s all premised on the notion that the majorities in that big building downtown hold on to some value that could trump their own self-interest.

Do they? We see no evidence. Time will tell. We hope we’re wrong.

Wisconsin State Journal calls for dish to run away with spoon

Yesterday the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board clucked approvingly when a 2nd-term congressman blurted out the truth

We’re at a place now in this country where voters are not picking their representatives anymore. Representatives, through the gerrymandering process and redistricting, are picking their voters.

Well, duh… The WSJ went on to call for honest and fairly-drawn voting districts. That is awfully nice, but as we said recently, NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Republican majorities wherever they exist are working feverishly to rewrite voting laws to benefit themselves, fairness be damned. It’s plain as day. Has the editorial board failed to notice who controls today’s Republican Party? These guys are not going to be influenced by sweet little calls for fairness on anyone’s editorial page.

sweetness bear