MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Republican Dan Sebring, who is running to represent Wisconsin’s 4th District in the House of Representatives, told ThinkProgress he suspects a political motive behind the Supreme Court’s recent ruling putting the state’s voter ID law on hold.
“The United States Supreme Court said we can’t implement it for this election,” he said at a Milwaukee County Republicans party this week. “My personal feeling is that this is a play to steer the outcome of the gubernatorial election so that Scott Walker wouldn’t have a chance of getting on the ticket in 2016 for the White House. I think that’s what they’re trying to do.”
Last week, the Supreme Court halted the state’s voter ID law without providing a clear explanation for its decision. However, a short dissenting opinion by Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the majority was relying on a 2006 decision which found that altering election law close to an election could “result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls.” Federal trial judge Lynn Adelman struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law in April before a federal appeals court reinstated the measure in September.
But many at the event expressed concern that Republicans would lose without a voter ID law. Conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna, who served as the evening’s emcee, even connected voter fraud to President Obama’s upcoming trip to Milwaukee.
“Mary Burke can turn out the base Democrats in a state that has same-day voter registration and does not protect the integrity of the election with voter ID,” she warned. “When Barack Obama comes to the state of Wisconsin, 20,000 people will cast their vote absentee at the rally. That’s why she’s bringing Barack Obama to Wisconsin.” In Wisconsin, however, “voters do not need a reason or excuse, such as being out of town on Election Day, to vote absentee” and filling out ballots at a rally would not be in violation of any law.
Milwaukee County Elections Commissioner Rick Baas added that the event’s attendees should all remain on the lookout for what he called a “really weird” phenomenon. “If people start to get mail at their homes around election time addressed to people who don’t live in that house, what you need to do is collect that mail and get it to me, so I can see if that person is registered to vote at your address,” he said. “Then we’ve got a case, a case Democrats say we don’t have.”
Research has shown that voter fraud is rare. A study of votes cast in Wisconsin during the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud, none of which could have been prevented by a voter ID law. Such a measure could however disproportionately disenfranchise African Americans, low income citizens and other groups who tend to vote for Democrats. In his opinion striking down the law, Judge Lynn Adelman noted that the state failed to identify a single instance of known voter impersonation in Wisconsin’s recent past. Nine percent of registered voters, about 300,000 people, also lack the ID required under the law.