State Republicans had their eyes on November last week. As Scott Walker's poll numbers fell, Senate Republicans scrambled to swiftly pass voter suppression bills aimed at keeping Wisconsinites home on Election Day. To date, four papers around the state have slammed the bill for it's obvious partisan intent and anti-democratic sentiment.
Without any support for their failed economic agenda that lags at half the national average for job creation, Walker and state Republicans' 2014 election strategy is to simply change the rules of the game to disenfranchise student, veterans, people of color, people with disabilities, and people with low-incomes.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opined against the passage of the bill, calling Republican arguments for voting restrictions "a thin veneer covering the real intent". The editorial board exposed the true intention of the bill as "suppressing the Democratic vote in Milwaukee and Madison, where many of the state's people of color live. It's a highly partisan bill that harks back to an era when voting was made much harder by strict poll laws for certain groups of people. On that basis alone, Gov. Scott Walker should veto the bill."
Journalist Bruce Murphy also questioned the motives of state Republicans, juxtaposing their voting restrictions with the reality of voting in large urban areas. "GOP lawmakers are about to pass a bill that would end any early voting on weekends and require that it occur only on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., with a total time limit of 45 hours of early voting a week," Murphy writes. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told Murphy that under the time constraint the number of people voting early in Big Bend in 2012 would have had 47 minutes per person to vote compared to Milwaukee where you would have a person voting every nine seconds.
Senate Republicans refused to debate the bill on the floor of the legislature without giving any reason as to why, in his piece Murphy offers the best possible explanation, "Might that be because they could not counter the arguments of Democrats?" Republican arguments simply can't stand up to the very real and harmful consequences the new restrictions will pose.
The Republican legislature's second attempt at ending early voting since taking power in 2011 shows where exactly where their priorities lie. The majority in the legislature has done next to nothing to improve the economic security of the middle class. Their partisan games jeopardize the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people.
The Beloit Daily News agrees, writing that the Republican majority in the state legislature "has all the time in the world for its own self interest, but doesn't have the time of day for measures with substantial backing among citizens."
Most recently, the Appleton Post Crescent opined against the Republican obsession with voter suppression. In response to Scott Walker's plans to call a special session on Voter ID the editorial board wrote "So, let’s get this straight. Jobs are a huge issue in Wisconsin. Economic development is a huge issue in Wisconsin. Health care costs are a huge issue in Wisconsin. But Walker has no plans to call a special session on any of those issues."