Former Wisconsin GOP staffer testifies that voter ID law was passed to win elections

Todd Albaugh, former chief of staff to a Republican state senator in Wisconsin, testified in federal court yesterday that his state’s voter ID law was passed in order to make it more difficult for Democrats to win elections.

According to Allbaugh, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, “State Sen. Mary Lazich, urging fellow Republican senators to enact a voter ID requirement in a closed-door meeting in 2011, told her colleagues to consider its impact in the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and the state’s college campuses” and “Congressman Glenn Grothman, serving at that time as a state senator, said in the same meeting that he supported voter ID because it would help Republicans win elections.” Allbaugh also quoted Grothman as saying in a closed-door meeting with his Republican colleagues that “What I’m concerned about here is winning,” with respect to his justification for voting in favor of the law.

Per previous testimony, roughly 300,000 citizens of Wisconsin lack photo identification, and they are disproportionately low-income, young and non-white — all constituencies that just so happen to cast most of their votes for Democrats.

Yesterday was the first day of the trial in a federal lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s laundry list of changes to its election laws, including its voter ID provision. Those changes range from restrictions on voter registration drives to reductions in early voting days to requiring citizens who move in-state within four weeks of Election Day to vote at their old address. They even prohibited municipal clerks from giving citizens the opportunity to correct errors on absentee ballots.

The extent of Wisconsin’s voting restrictions aren’t limited to the letters of its new laws, however. The implementation of Wisconsin’s new voting provisions has compounded difficulties for low-income and minority voters to access the ballot box. As the Wisconsin State Journal continued:

Congressman Glenn Grothman (R - WI), on the right, screenshot via YouTube

Congressman Glenn Grothman (R – WI), on the right, screenshot via YouTube

Others testifying in Monday’s trial spoke of difficulties they encountered to get special IDs for voting from the state Department of Transportation. One woman testified her elderly father, born in Mississippi during the Jim Crow period, was unable to get an ID because his name was misspelled on his birth certificate.

As the Brennan Center for Justice has reported, “the only ID issuing office in Sauk City, Wisconsin is open 8:15 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the fifth Wednesday of each month. There are only 4 fifth Wednesdays in 2016.”

Wisconsin also never funded the public education campaign that its own voter ID law required, a fact that attorneys for the plaintiffs in this week’s trial made sure to note in the proceedings.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Republicans in Wisconsin passed voter ID in order to win elections, but it’s the first time names have been named…in court. It’s not like we didn’t know what the deal was, though. Last month, Congressman Grothman (the same one from above) let slip on live television that he thought Hillary Clinton would lose his state in November because “now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is gonna make a little bit of a difference as well.”

To paraphrase Marco Rubio, let’s dispel with this fiction that Wisconsin Republicans didn’t know what they were doing. They knew exactly what they were doing.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Bill_Perdue

    Both parties are anti-democratic in their internal life and both oppose real democracy. Pretending that that ‘s not the case is irrelevant.

  • Doug Duwenhoegger

    Primary elections are private affairs run by the parties. So this is completely irrelevant to this article on the GOP rigging general elections through voter disenfranchisement.

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  • Amwatching2c

    A pollution filled GOP wants a Kock Stack in every neighborhood.

  • When Republicans pass a bill they claim is there to protect the environment and promote responsible use of resources, it’s most likely some form of strip mining and freedom-to-pollute law.

    When they pass a law they claim is supposed to be because they care about women’s health, it’s always a law intended to restrict women’s access to health care, eliminate reproductive freedoms and gradually regulate legal abortions out of existence.

    When they claim their voter ID laws have nothing to do with suppressing voter demographic groups which typically lean Democratic, they’re just lying. As usual.

  • The_Fixer

    This is par for the course in Wisconsin. Ever since Walker and his cronies have taken over, we’ve had a steady litany of double-talk, justification and outright lies coming from Madison.

    While our roads are destroying the suspension on our cars from lack of maintenance, new roads that are not needed are constructed. When the previous administration tried to take advantage of federal grants for high-speed rail, Walker canceled the project and promptly drove an employer out of the state. We wouldn’t want people who don’t own cars to conveniently take a trip to Madison to have their voices heard, now would we?

    We’ve seen the steady erosion of the Wisconsin higher education system, right down to the attempt to change its mission to that of a trade school. The Wisconsin University System is raiding couch cushions in the student lounges for cash, and as a result of this underfunding, great teaching, research and student talent is either leaving the state or not even bothering to consider attending here.

    Then there’s Wisconsin’s implementations of programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance. In spite of previous experience in Florida and other places showing it to be a waste of money, Walker wants to drug test every recipient. Oh, and he’s cut the amount of aid whenever he can.

    Walker and the Republicans certainly don’t want to face the fact that their policies have resulted in one of the slowest economic recoveries of any state in the nation. This has caused them to perform such dimwitted maneuvers as delaying payment on the state’s debt, which they try to twist into a net positive.

    Republicans are no good at governance. They govern based on penalizing people for their economic status and do everything within their power to prevent them from having a voice in their own government. It’s been proven repeatedly, not only in Wisconsin, but in Kansas, Louisiana and any other state that they touch that they are lousy at governance, because they want to drown government in a bathtub. This point has to be hammered on over and over again until those who are reasonable enough to think about their vote get this utter failure of a governor and legislature out of office.

  • Bill_Perdue

    That’s very like the Democrat fat cats and the origins of super-delegates. Both parties are anti-democratic and neither can be reformed. http://mic.com/articles/87719/princeton-concludes-what-kind-of-government-america-really-has-and-it-s-not-a-democracy

    ”712 Democratic (sic) Officials Will Decide Whether Clinton or Sanders Wins the Nomination. Newly published documents show that’s what the party planned all along. The Democratic (sic) Party’s bizarrely undemocratic process raises an obvious question: Why did it choose to institute such a system? To answer that, you need to go back to the Hunt Commission, which in 1982 invented the superdelegate.

    The proceedings of the Hunt Commission were never published, so In These Times went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to study the transcripts of the seven-month-long discussions. The records paint a picture of a party eager to win and convinced that, in order to do so, it must return control of the nominating process to top officials. It’s a strategy that reflects a shift in the party since the 1970s, away from the grassroots—a shift that has led to tensions within the party that are boiling to the surface with Bernie Sanders’ campaign. … The very democracy of the primary process appears to have made the Commission members nervous. … While the loss of working-class support was a problem that would dog the party for decades, Commission members saw no illogic in addressing this disaffection by reinstating top-down control. Many seemed to truly believe that superdelegates could represent the will of the people more faithfully than the votes of the people could.http://inthesetimes.com/features/superdelegates_bernie_sanders_hillary_clinton.html?link_id=0&can_id=08609865eb9925051ea265cfa96866e8&source=email-we-uncovered-the-secret-history-behind-superdelegates&email_referrer=we-uncovered-the-secret-history-behind-superdelegates&email_subject=we-uncovered-the-secret-history-behind-superdelegates

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