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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  • Jim Olson

    I noticed.

  • Jim Olson

    I noticed.

  • ComradeRutherford

    I am not following you. The Democrats want all citizens to be able to vote, the GOP does not. Where is the equivalency in that?

  • McKulty

    So, according to you more people voting = bad.

  • Rasta Man

    Every American should be able to vote.

  • Mr J.

    Notice how quiet their response is?

  • Mr J.

    Exactly what barriers are those the Dems are lowering? Explain your obvious BS statement.

  • Ryan Kaspar

    Let’s drop the pretense that democrats aren’t doing the exact same thing by promoting extraneous ways to lower barriers to voting. It’s a double-edged sword. I’m not saying it’s right, I just think it’s silly to think GOP is the only one doing this.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Attention Main Stream Media:
    The GOP has openly admitted that their anti-Voting laws are politically motivated. Let’s please drop the pretense that they were ever anything other than that.

  • Sandythansen3

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    two days ago grey MacLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !ti296u:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsCreditGetPay-Hour$98…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!ti296u….,

  • The_Fixer

    Oh and Yolandadmanno -or whatever alias you fraudsters are using – don’t bother to reply. I’ve already flagged you once tonight, I’ll gladly do it again so your offensive and fraudulent spam is promptly removed.

  • The_Fixer

    The obvious rebuttal to the assertion that urban areas using weekend voting more is that there are more people there to vote. That fact is clearly demonstrated by the long lines once the weekend vote was taken away. Obviously, it’s more of a financial burden to keep polling places open during the weekend on rural counties’ budgets. However, I bet if you asked people who lived in those areas, they’d likely say it is a good thing. Rural areas in Wisconsin center around farming, but some of these smaller also have industry. One small town with such an industry is the Ariens company in a little town called Brillion. They make power lawn and garden equipment (produced the first roto-tiller) as well as snowblowers and the like. They even used to make snowmobiles. During the peak seasons (spring to meet demand for lawn equipment and November to meet demand for snow equipment), I am sure that the workers at that plant would welcome the opportunity to vote on the weekend.

    A side note here – there are a number of now-fired Muslim employees who are suing the Ariens company in an effort to get reinstated. It seems that two 10-minute breaks, in addition to lunch, are not enough to satisfy their religious requirements for prayer sessions. In a “turnabout is fair play” move, the plaintiffs are citing religious liberty and religious discrimination as grounds for their suit. Regardless of the merits of the case, I don’t give the plaintiffs much hope – this is, after all, the Koch subsidiary led by the goggle-eyed humunculous Scott Walker which was formerly known as the State of Wisconsin (Thanks for that, Charles B Pierce!).

    Back on topic – I can also vouch for Jon’s assertion that “Milwaukee Voters” is the euphemism for black voters. “Madison Liberals” is their euphemism for UW students, teachers and anyone who votes Democratic and lives in the area of Madison. You’ll hear it on right-wing talk radio all the time.

    tl:dr – These crooks know exactly what they are doing and are fooling no one.

  • Yolandadmanno

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tc310urtwo days ago grey MacLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tc310u:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsGoodsGetPay-Hour$98…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tc310u….,….

  • Jim Olson

    Want to cite your assertion?

  • Blogvader

    It’s fascinating to see an indictment of voting restrictions from Democats. They enjoy restricting the vote when it’s they who benefit.

  • Jim Olson

    Access should be 100%. Anything less is illegal.

  • MoonDragon

    The proper metric for fair access would be poll hours per eligible voter. It’s also worth asking about the number of voters per polling place. Those are the measures of accessibility. Also, weekend hours add flexibility for hourly shift workers. No matter how one looks at it, such cutbacks affect working people in low wage industries. It’s not just racism and politics, it’s class warfare.

  • Amwatching2c

    This happens after ingesting Kock Fox swill.

  • gratuitous

    Yes, it must be awful for the county clerks to have to count all those votes. You know, do the job they campaigned to get? So much better to restrict ballot access to just the people who are going to use their vote responsibly.

    By the way, Jon, what did you do to get kicked off of Atrios’ blogroll?

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