Voter Suppression Law Not In Effect for Wisconsin Recalls

The rollercoaster of the Wisconsin recall process continued Thursday when the schedule set by Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan confirmed that the state’s voter suppression law will not be in effect for the June 5 recall elections.

A review of the crazy timeline: The law, known as Act 23, had legal trouble from the start. Lawsuits from the civil rights groups NAACP and Voces de la Frontera resulted in a temporary injunction by Judge Flanagan, while a separate lawsuit resulted in a permanent injunction against the law by another Dane County Judge, Richard Niess.

That meant the law was not enforced for the April 3 municipal elections, but the big question was still whether or not the vote would be suppressed in the crucial May 8 primary and historic June 5 recall. Would the Supreme Court make the final call? Nope – Act 23 was bounced back to the circuit courts after the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take up the case last week. (Whew. Now we’re dizzy.)

Flanagan has temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while he considers both arguments. A four-day trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon after Flanagan said he didn’t need to hear oral arguments. Flanagan, who will issue the verdict in the case, said he wants final positions outlined in briefs. He set a June 18 due date for the last set of filings.

This is good news for the thousands of Wisconsinites – including 177,000 Wisconsin seniors and nearly half of Wisconsin’s African-American and Hispanic citizens who don’t have photo ID – who would have been effectively barred from voting in the June election by Act 23. (Not to mention for those folks who wanted to get ID before election day, 26 percent of Wisconsin DMV’s are open one month a day or less, only one DMV has weekend hours, and Gov. Walker tried his best to close 10 DMV’s in heavily Democratic areas.)

It’s not great news for Gov. Walker and his Administration. His policies have been overwhelmingly harmful to Wisconsin working families, particularly students (cuts to higher education), seniors (cuts to Badgercare), and working class folks (cutting the state earned income tax credit, effectively a tax increase on the poor). Therefore, it’s in his interest that fewer of these voters are able to exercise their rights at the polls.

So we were less than surprised to see Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, well-rested after not helping victims of foreclosure fraud, acting very “concerned” about the validity of the June elections:

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he is very concerned about voter fraud as six recall elections near, including one targeting fellow Republican, Gov. Scott Walker.

Again, Walker and his team are concerned about some things: keeping people from voting, tax breaks for big businesses, and the latest out-of-state fundraiser. They are much less concerned, judging by the policies they advocate, with the ability of anyone in Wisconsin to find work, go to school, save for retirement, or pay their medical bills. But hopefully, they’ll be in the private sector soon, where they won’t have to worry about anyone but themselves.

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