Thurs 4/9: Why the GOP was willing to risk the lives of Wisconsin’s voters.

Costs here and here.

Action – Support Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020 (HR.6202)(S 3440)

Wisconsin’s GOP-dominated state legislature and court system, backed by Trump’s Supreme Court, overrode Democratic governor Tony Evans’ request for a delay and forced their citizens to stand for hours in the cold and risk contracting a ferocious disease, in order to exercise their right to vote. That many did, makes one proud. That they had to so is horrifying.

There ought to be a law to stop partisan endangerment of voters during dangerous events and here it is – HR 6202/S3440Support Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act.

The bill requires each state and jurisdiction to create a transparent plan for running their federal elections if a significant number of voters or poll workers are quarantined due to COVID-19. Voters would be allowed to submit online requests for absentee ballots and vote in federal elections by mail, and extend vote-by-mail deadlines if postal service is disrupted as a result of COVID-19.

These conditions that would go nationwide if at least 25% of states have declared an emergency due to any single natural disaster or infectious disease. The bill also provides for an emergency voting period if a state governor declares a state of emergency. Voters must be provided self-sealing return envelopes with prepaid postage for voter registration applications, absentee-ballot applications, and blank absentee ballots. The Election Assistance Commission must reimburse states for the costs of doing so.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [___] and I want Rep./Sen. [___] to cosponsor and vote for (Rep.HR 6202/Sen. S3440) “Support Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act.” to protect both people’s right to live safely and vote at the same time. What happened to folks in Wisconsin cannot be repeated. This bill, along all the election security bills waiting in McConnell’s legislative graveyard, including, but not limited to the SAFE ACT (HR2722), the SHIELD Act (H.R. 4617)  and the (FIRE) Act (S.2242) should be attached to the next coronavirus bill.

Rep-check: here. Neither Brownley nor Carbajal have signed on yet. Give them a call.
Senator-check here. Other than the sponsor, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), no one has cosponsored yet. Call Feinstein and Harris!

Contact
Rep. Julia Brownley: email(CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal:
email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?:https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Deeper Dive

Why did Wisconsin happen?: Wisconsin voters were not just being subjected to a possible death sentence to exercise their right to vote in a non-primary between Democratic presidential candidates. It was really to protect a Trump-endorsed judicial incumbent, Dan Kelly, who supports the full GOP game plan of gerrymandering and voter suppression against a more liberal opponent – Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky.  “Dan Kelly has served big corporate special interests, right-wing foundations, right-wing politicians and helped defend the legislative district maps Republicans rigged to help keep themselves in power. At no point in his career has Dan Kelly shown the ability or the inclination to be anything other than an extreme right-wing partisan.” – OWN research director Joanna Beilman-Dulin. He wrote a decision that prevented Madison from banning guns on its buses, argued against the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage undermined democracy, compared abortion to murder, and praised a decision that upheld Act 10, the 2011 law that scaled back collective bargaining for public workers. And the GOP thinks he’s the one that can purge enough voters for Trump to win Wisconsin again.

It’s not “just” a judicial seat:  Most people have trouble deciding between judicial choices on their ballots. Usually voters know very little about what these candidates would do if awarded a black robe. That’s why we at Indivisible Ventura sat down and interviewed our judicial candidates before our last election. Because now we know that judges at any level have the power to suppress or encourage civil justice and that no seat is unimportant. It was not a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, but a circuit judge in Ozaukee County that ordered 234,000 voters to be removed from the state rolls. He did so at the encouragement of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a right-wing organization largely funded by the Bradley Foundation, which bankrolls reactionary causes. No surprises here – Justice Dan Kelly used to serve on their board. The majority of those targeted for purging were from diverse and heavily Democratic cities.

Democrat Wisconsin Governor Tony Evans won by less than 30k votes, in 2016, Trump won the state by less than 23,000.

The GOP has always known this. Instead of pretending to consider the 400+ bills from the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used his legislation-free time salting federal courts with young Federalist Society ideologues to divert the course of justice for generations. On a state level, former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration created redistricting maps in 2011 which allowed a minority GOP population to control of both houses of the legislature and a GOP-majority court, the latter of which coincidentally shut down his campaign finance violation case.

The decision against humanity was partisan: GOP majorities on the Wisconsin Supreme Court  (5-2) and the US Supreme Court (5-4) ruled that now-democratic governor Tony Evans did not have the power to delay Wisconsin’s election during a pandemic to safeguard the health of those who would be ruled by it’s results, nor  to extend the acceptance of mail-in ballots that had not yet been received by thousands of voters. Interesting to imagine the creative legal decisions those same courts would have created if Governor Walker had gone ahead with his own attempt to move the April 2020 presidential primary to help Justice Daniel Kelly’s re-election.

This is really about the presidential election: Justice Dan Kelly, who had zero prosecutorial or judicial experience when Scott Walker picked him out of advisory board of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. He ran his “nonpartisan” campaign out of the Wisconsin Republican Party Headquarters and received $1.4 million from the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC). These groups have ties to the dark-money Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), “a nonprofit that pledged last year to spend $10 million to support Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, the same amount it spent in 2017 to help confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch. JCN has been heavily funded by the Wellspring Committee, a dark money group with ties to the Koch network that was primarily funded by a single anonymous donor. The Wellspring Committee, which shut down in December 2018, was also a likely conduit for a mysterious $1 million donation to the Trump inaugural committee.

With all that funding, they figured out how to fix an election.

The GOPcalculated that polling stations in the mostly Republican rural and suburban areas would be quiet and open, and that polling places in more Democratic cities would be crowded or closed. Further, absentee ballot requests were rumored to skew whiter and richer.Such a scenario helped their candidate, and would hurt the more liberal candidate.

It worked. The largest city, Milwaukee, is also a pandemic hotspot. Unable to find poll workers, just five of Milwaukee’s usual 180 polling places were open to serve a population of about 595,000. Those who braved it faced lines that wrapped around city blocks. Many in line were among the thousands who had requested absentee ballots that never arrived.

If Dan Kelly retakes his seat, more directed purges against tradionally liberal voters, Democrats, the poor and minorities, will come with enough judicial backing to help Trump win Wisconsin again. For all of us, every vote counts.

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