Madison, Wisconsin — Gov. Scott Walker’s unwillingness to criticize Donald Trump’s coddling of white nationalists in the wake of the horrific violence in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend is a shameful reminder that Walker will always put his own partisan political interests ahead of doing what is right for all peoples of Wisconsin. This includes a series of unconstitutional and racist attacks on the right to vote in Wisconsin for people of color.
“Scott Walker’s refusal to condemn his political ally Donald Trump for coddling racists is shameful,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Scott Walker’s record on attacking the voting rights of people of color for political gain is unconstitutional and the definition of racism.”
For six years Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature have changed the rules on voting time after time to make it more complicated and less convenient for voters who want to vote. Most insidiously, Gov. Walker and the Republicans have specifically targeted minority communities for voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression.
One Wisconsin Institute, the education and research arm of One Wisconsin Now, filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 against many of Gov. Walker’s attacks on voting rights. When the federal judge ruled for the plaintiffs in One Wisconsin Institute v. Thomsen just over one year ago, he specifically pointed out the intent by Gov. Walker and the Republicans to disenfranchise African American voters. Some of those passages include:
Some of the Wisconsin legislators who supported voter ID laws believed that they would have partisan effects. Their willingness to publicly tout the partisan impact of those laws deepens the resentment and undermines belief in electoral fairness.
The conclusion is hard to resist: the Republican leadership believed that voter ID would help the prospects of Republicans in future elections.
I find that …restricting hours for in-person absentee voting, intentionally discriminates on the basis of race. I reach this conclusion because I am persuaded that this law was specifically targeted to curtail voting in Milwaukee without any other legitimate purpose. The legislature’s immediate goal was to achieve a partisan objective, but the means of achieving that objective was to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.”
Based on the evidence that plaintiffs have presented, the court finds that Wisconsin’s restrictions on the hours for in-person absentee voting have had a disparate effect on African Americans and Latinos. The court also finds that the legislature’s justification for these restrictions was meager, and that the intent was to secure partisan advantage. Finally, the court finds that the legislature specifically targeted large municipalities—Milwaukee in particular—intending to curtail minority voting.
Combined, these findings lead the court to further find that the legislature passed the provisions restricting the hours for in-person absentee voting motivated in part by the intent to discriminate against voters on the basis of race.
“When Gov. Walker uses his political power to deny people the right to vote based on their race, there is only one word to describe that,” said Ross. “And that word is ‘racism.’”
One Wisconsin Now will be providing a full inventory of some of the lowlights of Gov. Walker’s appalling record on race later today.
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About One Wisconsin Now: One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.