A voter in Eau Claire, Wis. hands her photo identification card to an election assistant on March 21, 2016, at the City of Eau Claire Elections Office.
Photo by Marisa Wojcik/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram/AP

Wisconsin’s voter-ID scheme comes into sharper focus

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R), a far-right freshman from Wisconsin, generated national headlines this week when he admitted on television what many have long assumed. Looking ahead to this year’s presidential election, the Republican congressman expressed confidence about the GOP doing well in the Badger State, thanks in part to one specific policy.
“[N]ow we have photo ID,” Grothman said, “and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference.”
At least in public, Republicans are supposed to say voter-ID schemes have nothing to do with rigging elections by suppressing voting rights, though some on the right occasionally slip and accidentally tell the truth, as Grothman helped prove.
Now, another shoe has fallen. A former Republican staffer in the Wisconsin legislature wrote a Facebook message this week, confirming that he saw GOP state lawmakers who, while considering voter-ID measures, “were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters.”
The staffer talked to MSNBC’s Zack Roth today about the Republicans’ disenfranchisement campaign in Wisconsin.
Todd Allbaugh, who served as chief of staff to a Republican state senator, said in an interview Wednesday that at a closed-door caucus meeting in 2011, GOP lawmakers openly discussed how the ID bill would hit minorities and students hardest.
“One of the senators said, ‘We need to think about the ramifications here, what this means, particularly in Milwaukee and college campuses across the state, what that could mean for us,’” said Allbaugh. “What I’m interested in here is winning, and we need to use the opportunity, because if Democrats had the power to do it to us, they’d do it,” another senator said, according to Allbaugh.
It’s worth noting that Grothman is now in Congress, but he was a Wisconsin state senator when Republicans passed the voter-ID law that puts new hurdles between 300,000 Americans and their democracy.
“He outed himself,” Allbaugh said, referring to Grothman’s comments this week. “People should take the congressman at his word.”
Slate’s Jamelle Bouie added today, “Voter ID laws in Wisconsin and beyond are a direct attack on democracy, an attempt to rig the game by blocking whole groups of Americans from the polls.” Increasingly, some of the policy’s Republican champions aren’t even bothering to hide this simple truth anymore.

Voter Id, Voting Rights, War On Voting and Wisconsin

Wisconsin's voter-ID scheme comes into sharper focus