Two bad ideas and a winner for 2012 state elections

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Andrea Kaminski
December 24, 2011
— Just when you think people might take a holiday break from political shenanigans, a report emerges about interesting flyers people found on windshields this week. If the flyers aren’t a hoax, it appears a group called “Mines for Wisconsin” was urging people to sign recall petitions as “Adolf Hitler, 666 Hell St. (your city).”

This advice was offered as a way to protest the recall effort against Gov. Walker and support development of mining business in Wisconsin. The flyers incorrectly claimed it isn’t illegal to sign Hitler’s name on petitions. It certainly is illegal to intentionally falsify a name on a recall petition.

Besides, this protest doesn’t make sense. The burden of proof for challenging bogus signatures will fall upon the elected officials this group seemingly wants to protect. This is a bad idea. Don’t do it.

On the other end of the spectrum, the League of Women Voters has heard from a few people who swear they’ll vote in 2012 without showing a photo ID and that their votes will count. I don’t understand how they think that will work. Unless at least one of three lawsuits that have been filed against the new voter ID law succeeds soon, citizens will have to show acceptable photo IDs to vote. Without an ID, you’ll receive a provisional ballot that won’t be counted unless you show your ID to your municipal clerk by the Friday after the election.

If these rebels are considering disrupting the voting process, they should think twice. They could be charged with a felony and, if convicted, might find themselves disenfranchised for a few years. Another bad idea. Find a better way to protest the ID law.

Rather than attempt acts of civil disobedience that will at best cost you your vote and at worst land you in jail, make a New Year’s resolution to participate as an informed, prepared voter.

Make sure you have a valid ID by contacting your municipal clerk or the Government Accountability Board’s website, gab.wi.gov. Most voters will use Wisconsin driver’s licenses. If you have an ID, help a relative or neighbor who needs one. If you don’t have an ID, contact your local clerk or the League of Women Voters about how to get one. In Dane County, the league has limited funding to assist people who need to order certified copies of birth certificates to obtain IDs.

Once you’re sure your ID will work, check the GAB’s Voter Public Access website, vpa.wi.gov to confirm your voter registration and polling place. Seek reliable information about candidates from sources that don’t have stakes in the election. Don’t believe everything you hear in 30-second TV ads.

Women suffragists founded the League of Women Voters 91 years ago, after a 70-year struggle for voting rights. We’ll never take the right to vote for granted. That’s why we’re suing to block implementation of Wisconsin’s new voter ID requirement. We encourage every Wisconsin citizen to be informed and participate in their government in 2012.

Andrea Kaminski is executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network. The nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization promotes informed and active participation in government. There are 16 local leagues in Wisconsin. The LWVWI Education Network is a proud member of Community Shares of Wisconsin. Find the League on Facebook.

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