News Politics

Wisconsin Votes Today: Walker Likely Winner – 9:00 P.M. Central

Robin Marty

Want to know what's happening in Wisconsin? Check here all day for the latest news!

9:00 PM – Well, that was quick.  Despite only 25 percent of the vote being in and exit voting that shows a dead heat, NBC News has called the race for Walker.  Oddly enough, despite a Walker win, exit polling shows that President Barack Obama would win handily in the state among those who voted today, with Obama leading Romney 53-42.

Is the recall as sign of what will happen in November?  If so, it is a totally mixed message.

8:30 PM – The polls are closed and that means….absolutely nothing.  With reports that polling places all over Milwaukee ran out of registration forms hours earlier, many voters had to wait in extra long lines, and as long as you are in line by 8 p.m., you still get to vote.

The Drudge report declared Scott Walker the winner hours ago based on exit polling no one else seems to have seen, and before many had even voted, however, the President has also said that Walker is likely to hang on to his seat, and this election is no reflection on likely results in November.  Which makes this perhaps the only time that Drudge and Obama have ever agreed.

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With 6 percent of the vote in, Walker is leading Barrett by nearly 20 points. Exit polls already show a tie — and a very long night.

Right now the Walker-Barrett race is so close in the exit polling there appears little chance it will be called by media outlets until deep into the vote-counting.

Some notable patterns in the exit polling:

Union households are a larger slice of this electorate (33% of the vote Tuesday) than in 2010 (26%). That’s important because this group is voting even more heavily against Walker (64% to 35%), than it did in 2010.  

Conservatives appears to be a smaller slice of this electorate (34% of 2012 voters) than in 2010 (when they made up 37% of the vote).  

Walker has lost ground among independents since 2010. Independents voted 56% to 42% for Walker over Barrett in 2010, but favor him only by 50% to 49% in Tuesday’s exit polling.   

Walker also appears to have lost ground among women. He lost women by three points, 48% to 51%, in 2010. But this time he is losing them by 12 points, 56% to 44%.

4:00 PM – It’s getting late, we have four hours until the polls close, and turnout has been phenomenal. The Huffington Post reports that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is doing on the ground efforts on behalf of Tom Barrett, and the electorate is feeling quite energized.

“The enthusiasm on the ground is amazing,” said Stephanie Wilson, a spokesperson for PPWI. “This election is going to be to a lot closer than people are anticipating.”

Wilson told The Huffington Post that it has canvassers going door to door all over the state to motivate people to vote. Based on their reports, polling locations are running out of ballots and voter registration forms in Milwaukee, voters are bringing to the polls friends and family members who have never voted before, and women’s issues are playing heavily into people’s decisions.

Fox News is claiming that buses full of union supporters are being driven from Michigan to Wisconsin in order to claim they are Wisconsin residents and vote for Barrett.

[Radio Show Host Chris] PLANTE:

You’re on a bus full of people going from Michigan to Wisconsin and you believe that most of the people on the bus..other than yourself..you believe that ALL of the people other than yourself are going there to vote for Tom Barrett

CALLER MIKE:

Most of them are Democrat..it’s a Democratic union..its actually a Democratic union organized by Democrats. But I’m not goin on there to vote for the Democrat. I’m going on there to vote for Scott Walker. Once I heard about it I- I was thinking, hey..this is an opportunity to sabotage what they always do to Republicans.

PLANTE:

But you’re all alone on this bus whispering into your cell phone

CALLER MIKE:

Well I dont know if theres other people with my intentions but I know most of these people..most of these people..their intentions are to go vote for Democrats. I mean I know why people vote for Democrats, man they give out all kinds of free stuff Chris!

And, as expected, student voters are having one problem after another at the polls.

11:30 AM -Wonder how one little change in voter laws could conceivably tip an election?  Think Progress looks at how a minor change in residency law could potentially leave thousands of college students without the ability to vote today.

[A]ny student at these schools who registered to vote at school but is now home for the summer will not be permitted to update their registration at their parents’ house because they will have been home for less than 28 days. Under the old law, a student not on campus for the summer would have been permitted to update her registration at the polls and vote because she will have been home (or elsewhere off-campus) for more than 10 days.

As a result, thousands of Wisconsin students will likely be barred from taking part in today’s recall vote.

How high is voter turnout?  Many polling places are showing lines already, and officials are encouraging people to come in the early afternoon to vote, rather than get stuck in a likely post-work rush.

“If you get a chance to vote this afternoon, when we expect a lull in activity, it might be a good time to go.” High turnout in Milwaukee County was anticipated to be a good sign for Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, who is Milwaukee’s mayor.

It was the same across the state, including Waukesha County – a typical stronghold of support for incumbent Republican Scott Walker.

“We’re hearing reports of strong voter turnout.  I got a report out of Oconomowoc, it took an hour to get through the line at 7:15 a.m.” said the Government Accountability Board’s Reid Magney.

What do the opposing candidates’ last minute rallies look like?  Read Rick Perlstein’s piece at Rolling Stone to see some stark contrasts in campaign styles.

10:00 AM – Well over half of the state is expected to hit the polls in Wisconsin, where voters will have a chance to decide whether or not Republican Governor Scott Walker will be finishing off his first term in office, or be booted in favor of Democrat Tom Barrett.

Polls opened at 8:00 A.M. central, and within 30 minutes reports were already filtering into twitter of high turnout, with voters claiming hundreds of votes were already cast at their local polling places.  This morning news organizations projected close to a 65 percent turnout — near presidential election level numbers, and far more voters than during the 2010 midterm election that put Walker into office.

But will that massive turnout favor the Republican or the Democratic candidate?  That may be hard to tell until all of the votes are in.  As of 10 A.M., there has been little chatter of problems at the polls or much in the way of potential voter suppression.  The only allegation of misdoings at this point is the accusation of robo-calls informing voters incorrectly that if they signed a petition to recall Walker, they did not need to go to the polls to vote.

Polls are open until 8:00 P.M. central, and we will be updating this post all day.

News Law and Policy

Voting Rights Advocates Notch Another Win, This Time in Texas

Imani Gandy

This makes two voting rights victories in as many days for voting rights advocates. A federal judge on Tuesday in Wisconsin ruled that voters who unable to comply with the state's photo ID requirement would be allowed to vote in the November's election.

The ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a surprising victory for voting rights advocates, ruled that Texas’s voter ID law disproportionately burdened Black and Hispanic voters in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

The decision means Texas can’t enforce the law in November’s presidential election.

Wednesday’s ruling was the latest in a convoluted legal challenge to the Texas law, which conservative lawmakers passed in 2011 and is among the most stringent voter ID laws in the nation. Voting rights advocates challenged the measure almost immediately, and the law remained blocked until the Roberts Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder revived it.

The Court in Shelby struck down a key provision of the VRA, Section 4, which is the coverage formula used to determine which states must get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or the District Court for the District of Columbia under Section 5 of the VRA before making any changes to their election laws. States with a history of racially discriminatory voting requirements like Texas were covered by the Section 4 pre-clearance requirement before the Shelby decision.

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Within hours of the Court’s ruling in Shelby, Texas officials announced that they would begin enforcing SB 14, the restrictive voter ID law.

In response, a group of Texas voters sued Texas under a different portion of the civil rights law, arguing SB 14 violates Section 2 of the VRA, which forbids voting procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. Unlike Section 5 of the VRA, which requires state officials prove a voting rights law has no discriminatory intent or effect, under Section 2, the burden of proving racial discriminatory intent or effect is placed on voters to prove the restriction discriminated against their voting rights.

Both the district court and a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit agreed and found that SB 14 had a discriminatory affect in violation of Section 2 of the VRA. Texas then requested that the Fifth Circuit rehear the case en banc, with the full slate of judges on the Fifth Circuit.

The full Fifth Circuit issued that decision Wednesday, handing Texas conservatives a decisive loss.

“The record shows that drafters and proponents of SB 14 were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact,” Judge Catharina Haynes wrote for the majority.

Texas claimed that it had modeled its law after Indiana’s law, which was upheld in another challenge, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. The Fifth Circuit, however, rejected Texas’s argument, finding obvious differences between the two laws that affected its decision that Texas’s law had a discriminatory impact on people of color.

“While cloaking themselves in the mantle of following Indiana’s voter ID law, which had been upheld against a (different) challenge in Crawford, the proponents of SB 14 took out all the ameliorative provisions of the Indiana law,” Haynes wrote.

One such ameliorative provision was an indigency exception, which the GOP-dominated Texas house stripped from the law. That exception would have freed indigent people from any obligation of paying fees associated with obtaining a qualified photo ID.

Although the Fifth Circuit found that the law violates the Voting Rights Act, the Fifth Circuit did not fashion a remedy for this violation and instead, remanded the case back to the lower court, instructing it that the “remedy must be tailored to rectify only the discriminatory effect on those voters who do not have SB 14 ID or are unable to reasonably obtain such identification.”

In addition, the appeals court reversed the lower court ruling that Texas had intended to discriminate against racial minorities. The court found evidence to support such a claim, but ultimately found that the district court’s overall findings were insufficient, and sent the case back to the district court to reconsider the evidence.

Nevertheless, voting rights advocates hailed the decision as a victory.

“We have repeatedly proven—using hard facts—that the Texas voter ID law discriminates against minority voters,” Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement, according to the Texas Tribune. “The 5th Circuit’s full panel of judges now agrees, joining every other federal court that has reviewed this law. We are extremely pleased with this outcome.”

Texas Republicans, including former governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry, rushed the law through the GOP-majority legislature in 2011, arguing that it was necessary to prevent voter fraud, even though voter fraud has been found to be almost nonexistent in other Republican-led investigations.

Politifact found in March of this year that since 2002, there had been 85 election fraud prosecutions, and not all of them resulted in convictions. To put that in perspective, from 2000 to 2014, some 72 million ballots were cast in Texas, not counting municipal and local elections.

Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, argued in 2015 that most of the Texas prosecutions would not have been prevented by the voter ID law, since the prosecutions were not for in-person voter fraud, but rather for marking someone else’s absentee ballots without their consent, fake registrations, or voting while ineligible.

“There are vanishingly few instances of voter fraud—incidents flat-out, not just prosecutions—that could be stopped by applying a rule requiring ID at the polls,” Levitt said, according to Politifact.

Opponents of SB 14 cited the near absence of proven in-person voter fraud, arguing that the law was intended to dilute the voting strength of the state’s increasing population of people of color, many of whom do not have photo identification and who would find it difficult to obtain it, as the opinion noted.

Laws requiring photo identification disparately impact people of color, students, and low-income voters, all groups who tend to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.

Nevertheless, Texas conservatives continue to insist that the law was appropriately tailored to address voter fraud. “Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the process,” said Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in a statement on Wednesday, according to the Texas Tribune.

Texas may appeal to the Supreme Court and ask the high court to intervene, although given that the Roberts Court remains short one judge, a 4-4 split is possible, which would leave in place the Fifth Circuit’s ruling.

This makes two voting rights victories in as many days for voting rights advocates. A federal judge on Tuesday in Wisconsin ruled that voters who unable to comply with the state’s photo ID requirement would nevertheless be allowed to vote in the upcoming election in November.

News Law and Policy

Wisconsin Can’t Enforce GOP’s Voter ID Law in November

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Republican lawmakers in other states, like Ohio, have turned up almost nothing during lengthy investigations into claims of voter fraud.

A federal judge in Wisconsin on Tuesday ruled that voters unable to comply with the state’s photo ID requirement be allowed to vote in November, striking a blow to conservative efforts to drive down Democratic voter turnout in the state.

Tuesday’s decision, issued by Judge Lynn Adelman, did not strike the law, but instead carved out an exception, ruling that voters who are unable to obtain an ID be permitted to sign an affidavit testifying to that inability and receive a ballot to vote. “Any voter who completes and submits an affidavit shall receive a regular ballot, even if that voter does not show acceptable photo identification,” according to Adelman’s decision. “No person may challenge the sufficiency of the reason given by the voter for failing to obtain ID.”

Conservatives in Wisconsin, including former Republican Party presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker, proposed the measure, arguing it was necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Republican lawmakers in other states, like Ohio, have turned up almost nothing during lengthy investigations into claims of voter fraud.

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“Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who can’t obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort,” Adelman wrote. “The … affidavit option is a sensible approach that will both prevent the disenfranchisement of some voters during the pendency of this litigation and preserve Wisconsin’s interests in protecting the integrity of its elections.”

Adelman declined to apply the photo ID exception to the state’s August primary, ruling state officials would not have enough time to prepare for it.

The fight over Wisconsin’s voter ID law goes back to 2011, when attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty sued, arguing the law violated both the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Adelman initially blocked the law, but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision and sent the case back to Adelman for another look. That left the requirement in place for Wisconsin’s presidential primary in April.

Tuesday’s ruling means those who were unable to comply with the photo ID requirement can still cast a ballot in the November 8 presidential election.