Wisconsin county clerk says that weekend voting gives “too much access” to ballot

“When it comes to voting, more often means worse.” – George Will

The trial in a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s laundry list of ballot access restrictions keeps getting more and more frustrating.

One week after a former Republican staffer testified that the state’s voter ID law was passed for the express purpose of reducing turnout among low-income, minority and student populations, a county clerk testified that the state was right to eliminate weekend hours for early voting in Milwaukee County because it gave those voters “too much access.”

From the Chippewa Herald:

[Waukesha County clerk Kathleen] Novack said she believes eliminating weekend voting “level(s) the playing field” between large urban areas and smaller suburban and rural communities that lack the resources to staff weekend hours.

Scott Walker, via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

“If there’s an office open 30 days versus an office that’s only open 10 work days, there are obviously voters that have a lot more access than someone else,” Novack said. “There has to come a point where it’s just giving over-access … to particular parts of the state.”

Asked whether she thought voters in Milwaukee and Madison — communities that previously used weekend voting — had too much access, Novack said, “too much access to the voters as far as opportunities.”

Novack went on to dismiss the issue of long lines at polling places that result from getting rid of weekend voting, arguing that “Apparently access is an easy thing or they wouldn’t have long lines.” At this point, I assume that the plaintiffs’ lawyers, whose beef with eliminating weekend voting is that it reduces access in party by making lines on Election Day longer, began bleeding from the ears.

In Wisconsin in particular, it’s important to note the racial politics at play here. Milwaukee County is surrounded by three counties — Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington (the WOW counties) — that are 94, 95 and 96 percent white, respectively. Milwaukee County is 65 percent white, and Milwaukee voters are often used by Republicans in the state as shorthand for black people. When Novack says that Milwaukee’s weekend voting gave its citizens too much access, what she’s worried about isn’t that her counties’ residents won’t be able to vote; she’s worried that black people, and by extension Democrats, will.

These folks aren’t very good at masking their contempt for certain types of voters.

(h/t Rick Hasen)


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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