The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel criticized incoming Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald for making a Voter ID bill the first legislative priority of the State Senate. In their mind, the only mandate for a newly GOP-controlled legislature is fixing our economy. Unlike the editorial board, I'm not entirely sold on the idea that Republicans were voted into office only because Democrats failed to mitigate a bad economy. There are other factors at play.
Part of the reason we experienced a power shift this midterm was because Democrats misinterpreted the 2008 election as a mandate to ram their progressive agenda through Congress. They gladly accepted control of our federal government, but they ignored the people. The polls told them that a majority of Americans rejected Obamacare, yet they twisted arms and made backroom deals with unions in order to pass it. They told us that we would learn to like it.
I would argue that if Wisconsin Republicans had any mandate, it's to protect our democracy. Economic recessions come and go, and I'm sure it provided an unwanted backdrop for Democrats during the midterm elections, but the people gave the House of Representatives to the GOP for reasons beyond economic concerns.
The Wall Street Journal reported that many of the districts with the worst economic conditions reelected their incumbents while candidates in districts with good economic environments lost their seats. And Milwaukee, to use an anecdotal example, has the fourth highest poverty rate in the country and also one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. And yet Milwaukee voters easily reelected Gwen Moore, Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan. In other words, there doesn't seem to be a direct correlation between poor economic conditions and the reelection of candidates during the 2010 midterm elections.
It was Dwight Eisenhower that said that the future of the Republic was in the hands of the American voter. If this is true, then Republicans' first call of duty is to ensure that all votes are counted and that no fraudulent vote nullifies the constitutional rights of others. By upholding this obligation, Republicans can show the public they are interested in protecting the very foundation of our Democracy - our right to be heard.
Unlike Democrats in Congress, Republicans don't need to convince the public they will learn to like it later. According to an August Rasmussen poll, 82% of Americans support having photo identification at the ballot box. If more than 80% of Americans want it, then Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald would be amiss not to send a bill to the Governor's desk.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel likened the impact of voter fraud to a pimple on the Rockies. Yet, without a system of checks and balances in place, there is no way to know that voter fraud is infinitesimal.
The naysayers tell us that Voter ID will "erect hurdles" for those that vote predominantly Democrat. Yet in the five years after a Voter ID law was passed in Indiana, there is not a single person that came forward saying they were disenfranchised. Photo identifications are used for driving, buying beer, or for retaining bank accounts. Liberal sources say that less than 6% of people don't have photo IDs. However, if people take their civil duty at least as seriously as buying a six-pack of beer, voter hindrance shouldn't be a problem.
Whatever side of the argument you're on, whatever your rationalization is, a fraudulent vote is an attack on someone's Constitutional right to be heard. Senator Scott Fitzgerald is not out of place for considering a Voter ID bill that protects our republic. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does not decide what mandates the GOP has, we the people do.