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Recall vote hinges on photo IDs

By Matt Pommer

If Gov. Scott Walker wins his recall election, he will be lionized as a hero at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

His fight with public employees could excite Republican leaders and convention delegates, especially those from the Tea Party, as they mobilize for the national elections in November.

If Walker loses the recall election, he could make a lot of money on the conservative speaking circuit.

Walker understands the financial potential. In an interview with Milwaukee’s conservative radio talk-show host Charles Sykes, Walker said he could make “real money” in the private sector if he loses.

Democrats are using his comments in their appeal to raise money. They say the governor’s current salary and fringe-benefit package amounts to more than $171,000, and that doesn’t include the use of the Maple Bluff mansion and its staff.

Polling indicates the public is divided on recalling Walker. There are few undecided in the early spring polls, and the reported splits are within the margin of statistical error. That means the race is a tossup.

A key deciding factor is whether Wisconsin voters will be required to show a photo identification card to get a ballot in the election. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill, and Walker signed it into law. Republicans say it will prevent voter fraud.

Critics have challenged the law as violating the state constitution. Republicans say the U.S. Supreme Court would allow it, but the law isn’t being challenged in federal court. The focus is the state constitution.

The Republican-controlled state Justice Department wants to bypass the appeals court and get the case quickly and directly to the state Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 4-3 margin. It is a clear effort to make sure the photo ID law is in place for the June recall elections.

It wouldn’t be the first time Republicans have pushed for quick action by the state Supreme Court. The GOP wanted a quick decision on the governor’s anti-labor legislation.

Surely, the court’s four conservatives would favor the Republican position on the voter photo ID bill. One choice would be to let it go into effect for the recall elections while legal arguments are being drafted.

Testimony about the law in one of the circuit court trials indicated that, under the law, the people likely to lose the ability to vote in the recall are the poor, disabled and elderly. Those sound like people who might vote for the yet-to-be selected Democratic candidates.

A favorable photo ID ruling probably means Walker won’t have to worry about finding a job. And it could guarantee him cheers and wild applause at the GOP convention in Tampa.

Matt Pommer worked as reporter in Madison for 35 years. He comments on state political and policy issues.


  1. ” under the law, the people likely to lose the ability to vote in the recall are the poor, disabled and elderly. ” — In other words its called voter suppression — the Voter Id bill, the cloak and dagger redistricting , the demonization of teachers and public employee’s the attack on collective bargaining and busting unions — had little to do with creating jobs, balancing budgets or moving Wisconsin forward — but had everything to do with power, greed and keeping it — The Republicans and there masters may think they are holding all the cards — but I would not bet the farm just yet

  2. Why do you think the poor and disabled won’t be able to vote? They all have ID’s already. You cannot get welfare without it.
    The elderly put Walker in office and a large majority, even more so then the large majority overall, support Voter ID. The elderly are the most likely to have ID and also understand personal responsibility.
    Voter ID is voter suppression of a major voting block of Democrats. Those potential voters who are not legally allowed to under state law. It will have a major affect in future elections…

  3. I’ve lived in several states, and this is the first one I’ve lived in where a photo ID was not required to vote. I really don’t see how it excludes anyone from voting.

    I fail to see how requiring ID’s excludes college students from voting. They’re old enough to have drivers licenses, and if they’re out of their home area because they’re at college, they can register to vote in their college town, or vote absentee in their own district.

    If you don’t have a state issued ID, you’re limiting yourself from a lot more than voting.

  4. So if ID’s are required at the polls, Walker will win? The claims of potential voter fraud once again floated, despite the lack of evidence or past prosecutions to support the claim. I guess the argument can be this flimsy when you have a captive audience of readers who believe in the ghost of voter fraud.

  5. Spock — Why do you think all poor and disabled people are on welfare — but I guess if they are voting Democratic its OK to suppress them —-

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