I'm understandably ecstatic to see that at least one Wisconsin Republican elected official is hoping to follow in Florida's Tea-laden footsteps once again. State Senator Mary Lazich put out a clarion call of a press release on Tuesday for a purge of the state's voter rolls of "noncitizen resident aliens" via a cross check of the Homeland Security's Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database for determining governmental benefit eligibility. Lazich's rationale for such a brazen maneuver:
“After recent incidents, many have justifiably questioned Wisconsin’s election administration. Checking voter rolls for non-citizens is a simple way to restore faith in the process. I can’t imagine why anyone would argue against this common-sense plan.”Ahh, yes...those pesky "recent incidents." She must be referring to a continuance of the fear mongering and completely unsubstantiated and disproved allegations of "voter fraud" bandied about by RNC Chairman and Wisconsin native Reince Priebus and the Fitzwalkerstanis in the months before and after the recall elections. After all, there’s no way that recently sworn-in Democratic Sen. John Lehman could have possibly defeated incumbent Republican Van Wanggaard on June 5th (reclaiming a Democratic majority in the State Senate in the process) without an overwhelming plague of “voter fraud” in the urban heart of that 23rd Senate District, the City of Racine, right?? No matter who tells the Republican "leadership" that these bullshit claims are baseless and detrimental to the electoral process, the Republicans simply will not be deterred. Following a month-long investigation into Republican allegations of shenanigans, the Racine County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney determined that nothing resembling criminal activity or "voter fraud" had taken place in Racine. In response to a one-page letter from Assembly Republicans "concerned" with the state of our state's elections, Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy responded with a five-page letter and issued this blistering and unambiguous message:
“Speaking frankly on behalf of our agency and local election officials, absent direct evidence, I believe continued unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud tend to unnecessarily undermine the confidence that voters have in election officials and the results of the election. I know we agree that elections should be open and transparent and subject to scrutiny and analysis. I hope that, as an elected official, you would also agree that there is little benefit in promoting unsupported allegations questioning the credibility of the election process and the work of local clerks and election inspectors.”This week, Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan issued another blow to those wishing to suppress the vote in Wisconsin when he ruled that Wisconsin's excessively and unnecessarily burdensome Voter ID law shall be permanently barred from implementation due to its unconstitutionality. As part of his final decision, he wrote:
"Since 2004, voter fraud investigations have been undertaken by the Milwaukee Police Department, by the Mayor of Milwaukee and by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, working with various county prosecutors working through the Attorney General's Election Fraud Task Force. None of these efforts have produced a prosecution of a voter fraud violation that would have been prevented by the voter ID requirements of Act 23."In spite of these rebuttals, the cries of "VOTER FRAUD!!" miraculously just keep on boomeranging around the right-wing echo chamber. Bolstering and propagating that fear mongering by casting doubt surrounding the voting eligibility of Wisconsin's minority populations?? Beautiful. Talk about some serious gall. One needs to have a shameful lack of integrity or respect for the voting process and the citizens of Wisconsin in order to keep parroting this ginned-up meme of the "many" Teatotaling extremists. But don't dare question Sen. Lazich's motives or you will be singled out for scorn, as State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) found out after issuing a press release in response to Lazich's. As a Capital Times editorial noted:
Rep. Zamarripa highlighted concerns about Lazich when she made a credible claim that Lazich's real motivation might be to "purge lawful immigrant voters from Wisconsin poll lists.”Lazich's only likely regret is that Florida beat Wisconsin to the punch again in the extremist race to the bottom. First came Florida's pioneering "Stand Your Ground" law, along with its inherent rise in homicides, that was so unnecessarily extreme as to become an NRA-approved ALEC model bill. Then last fall, Wisconsin's legislature passed and Scott Walker signed into law our state's own "Castle Doctine" version of "Shoot first, ask questions never" vigilantism that contributed to the March 3rd murder of 20 year-old Bo Morrison and the subsequent dearth of accountability for his shooter. Now maybe Wisconsin can follow in Governor Rick Scott's stead by targeting minority and immigrant voters!! It seems that Wisconsin is even trying to copycat and one-up Florida's oppressive heat and humidity this summer. I can't wait to find out what is next in the game of follow the Teabagger...draconian, unconstitutional and frivolous utilization of drug testing for our state's welfare recipients, perhaps? At least Governer Scott Walker was a trendsetter when he defiantly rejected Wisconsin's share of federal stimulus money for constructing high-speed rail months before Rick Scott's February 2011 decision to do the same thing. Suck it, Florida!!
Lazich's response was to suggest that her colleague is a liar: “Whether it’s ignorance or intentional misrepresentation, Representative Zamarripa’s comment is absurd," read the Lazich statement.
I wonder...how can one still claim the legitimacy of Wisconsin's electorate and our "election administration" have been "justifiably questioned" when no legitimate evidence has been presented to prove that the "questions" are in any way justifiable?? The right-wing smear campaign both implicitly and explicitly calling out the rampant (read: non-existent) "voter fraud" we are supposedly inundated with in Wisconsin, has gone on for far too long. The lies need to stop. Then again, when the tactics of Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and Rick Scott are your inspiration for a solution to a non-existent problem, 21st century electoral integrity is probably not your desired aim...