Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans are, once again, trying to limit the amount of voters in coming elections.
It’s hard to see how allowing voters to register online could possibly be a bad thing, but in a new bill, it seems legislators were able to do just that by also taking away the ability of local municipalities to help conduct voter registration drives.
The bill would open up the possibility to register as a Wisconsin voter online, making it more convenient for those who want to vote. If the bill was just about online voter registration, this wouldn’t be a problem, but there’s a stipulation in the bill that would eliminate the Special Registration Deputies position.
Currently, local municipalities can appoint Special Registration Deputies to assist civic groups in conducting voter registration drives. Thus, the bill will actually hamper efforts to register voters, disproportionately affecting voter turnout in Milwaukee and Madison, more liberal leaning cities.
If the bill was perfect, one could argue the people who need to go to voter registration drives could just do it online. But as the government accountability group, Common Cause said, the online registration requires an ID that meets the state’s new voter ID standards.
Students, elderly and low-income individuals are all less likely to have the new forms of new voter ID, and because of this bill these groups are at risk of being disenfranchised.
This bill is really a ploy to make it seem like certain legislators and Republicans care about voting rights, but the reality is that it does nothing to advance those rights.
Another issue is the fact the state is not actively promoting how to gain new forms of legal voter ID.
It’s one thing to change the way people are supposed to vote, it’s another thing to not actively inform people how those changes will affect them.
Many people may show up on election day unaware that they need a voter ID to vote, but now because of this new bill, many may not even be able to vote.
Luke Schaetzel ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.