Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Monitoring votes, analyzing results

Congratulations, Madison! We may have lost the war, but we won the battle when it came to turnout and support.

Wisconsin boasted the second-highest voter turnout in the country, behind our neighbors in Minnesota.

That’s fine. We proved this weekend they vote more than us, but can’t get in the end zone like us.


If any of you recalls my incorrect prediction last Tuesday, it turns out you should have been listening to Melissa Milbrandt, a local seventh grader who, in a Scholastic contest, correctly predicted every state in the union red or blue.

I was in Milwaukee Election Day, participating in a non-partisan election-monitoring program. Watching democracy in action is truly inspiring. Boring, long and frustrating as well, but in the end, all worth the effort.

My polling place had a major early malfunction in that its Chief Election Inspector, the person nominally in charge, called in sick. The two (well-meaning but ancient) workers who took over were deathly slow. At one point, 22 people voted in 35 minutes, and there was a three-hour wait.

As news spread of the discontent and long lines at my polls, media began filtering in. Soon observers from both parties had allies there, and by the end of the day, I had seen a parade of political superstars, local and otherwise.

The Rev. Al Sharpton stopped in to keep the voters engaged and deliver a well-received pep talk. Jesse Jackson Jr., who didn’t have to worry too much about his own Congressional election in Chicago, had the time to stop by. Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee, made a visit. Last, and certainly the most obscure, was Abner Mikva.


Mikva was White Counsel to Bill Clinton in the mid-90s, a former federal appellate court judge and a five-term Congressman. What he was doing there, I’m not too sure, but he was really nice.

If you’re reading this, however, you’re thinking: “You know, who cares what you did? The wrong side won and especially after all my friends and I thought Kerry was going to win!”

True. If you lived in Madison, most of the people you spoke to voted for Kerry. While we sent this state to Kerry, we didn’t carry the country.

What played out Nov. 2 is going to be endlessly analyzed. It seems, though, that a few themes were played out nationally that are going to get played out right here in Wisconsin.

Our state legislature retained and strengthened its Republican majority, unlike most state legislatures. While Republicans made gains in the national House and Senate, they lost ground in state legislatures. They now control outright 20 state legislatures to the Democrats’ 19, with 11 split in control. The big issues that played out between Bush and Kerry will now be played out in our nation’s state houses.

In Wisconsin, the current tally is 60-39 in the Assembly and 19-14 in the Senate favoring Republicans.

What’s on the agenda for them? The three Gs: guns, gays and less government (OK that’s a stretch, but GGT for guns, gays and taxes just doesn’t snap).

The first issue is reviving the “conceal and carry” plan in Wisconsin. Apparently, voters are clamoring to have the right to bear arms just about everywhere. This law enforcement-disapproved measure is a sop thrown to the GOTV efforts of the NRA.

Next, the state legislature wants to have a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage so that activist judges won’t allow Jack and John the right to employee benefits, life insurance policies or hospital visits. Remember, this conservative ideology is what delivered Ohio to Bush. Wisconsin already defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but don’t think a redundant political point can’t be a focus for the right.

Last is TABOR. The spending and taxation cap proposed by the Republicans in this state (hand written by special interests for them courtesy of huge lobbying group ALEC) will knee cap public resources, the exact result desired by Republicans. Currently there aren’t the votes to support TABOR, but expect it to become a huge issue.

This entire agenda played out before our eyes generally in the national election.

Now the fight is at our doorstep, literally just up the street from us. We’ve got to let them know it won’t happen on our watch.

Rob Deters ([email protected]) is a third-year law student and wants his streets plowed in February.

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