A Libertarian’s View of the WI 43rd Assembly Race: Voter ID

Wisconsin has thousands of laws, for all manner of restrictions, prohibitions, requirements, limitations, bans, etc. Considering this foundation, there are two ways to look at adding new laws.

Some people will say that more laws are needed to shape and mold conduct in the right direction, to guide society to a better way of thinking and acting. Others will contend that additional laws should be a matter of last resort, and enacted only after meeting a burden of necessity.

Libertarians fall in the second group.

New Voter ID Requirements. These recent years have seen worrying about the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections. There are fears that our elections allow fraudulent voting, of a kind that’s noticeable and significant. For this reason, some would like us to enact new voter ID laws.

In all Wisconsin, where is the compelling evidence of significant harm from supposed voter fraud that would justify new voting requirements?

There isn’t any. Wisconsin doesn’t have a voter fraud problem that justifies changes in our law. There’s talk about fraud, but there’s no evidence that it is an actionable problem.

There is compelling academic evidence that new voter ID laws would place hurdles before hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites:

But [Circuit Court Judge] Flanagan noted that birth certificates are required to get the IDs and voters who don’t have them must pay for them. He said more than 300,000 voters do not have an acceptable form of ID.

“The cost and the difficulty of obtaining documents necessary to apply for a (Division of Motor Vehicles) photo ID is a substantial burden which falls most heavily upon low-income individuals,” his decision said.

A demographer who testified for the state, Peter Morrison, argued virtually all eligible voters had a photo ID, but University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Kenneth Mayer estimated more than 301,000 do not have a driver’s license or state ID card. That’s 9.3% of registered voters.

Some Republicans, some conservatives, and some members of Tea Party groups worry about how supposed voter fraud might influence our elections. They would do better to consider our own electoral history, during a time (as now) when voter ID laws were not in force.

Gov. Thompson, Sen. Johnson, Atty. General Van Hollen, and Gov. Walker (twice in a year and a half) won statewide office without voter ID laws in force. The absence of additional restrictions on voting didn’t keep them from victory. The fear that fraud threatens GOP success in Wisconsin is unfounded, and almost embarrassingly overwrought.

Republicans can and do win here (often by solid margins); they’re not being disadvantaged. If anything, they’ve been on a winning streak.

The Left’s version of these concerns is the suspicion that voting machines in places like Ohio have been rigged. There’s a cottage industry built on the proposition that voting machines in Ohio in 2004 were somehow rigged in George W. Bush’s favor.

They weren’t. George W. Bush won Ohio because more people in that state voted for him.

Rep. Wynn, in his campaign flyer taxpayer-funded newsletter from last year highlights his commitment to new voter ID laws.

It’s actually a commitment to make it harder for citizens to vote.

When Rep. Wynn attends a candidate forum later tonight, or when he travels throughout the 43rd District, perhaps he’ll look out and consider how many of the people he sees would have a harder time voting because of the additional restrictions he supports.

The Candidates’ Questionnaire Responses. Over at the Whitewater-Area League of Women Voters’ website, there are answers from both candidates to a questionnaire from the League.

Candidate Forum. Tonight at 7:30 PM, the two candidates for the 43rd Assembly District will be at Timmerman Auditorium in Hyland Hall, on the UW-Whitewater campus.

Tomorrow: Debate recap.

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