Voter Suppression in Wisconsin: Senators Risser and Taylor on the Ed Schultz Show/Andrea Kaminski of League of Women Voters of Wisconsin

Ed Schultz interviews Senators Taylor and Risser on his show. This includes footage of Senator Mike Ellis cutting off the longest serving public servant in the United States, my Senator, Fred Risser who serves Madison, in the 26th district. Senator Lena Taylor serves district 4 in Milwaukee.

Since I have your attention on voter ID (voter suppression), I and co-host Steve Hanson will be interviewing Andrea Kaminski on our daily online radio show at 10AM next Wednesday. Ms. Kaminski is Executive Director of League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. She’ll clarify what aspects of this voting bill will be implemented before the recall elections on July 12 as opposed to later. I hope we’ll also cover how you and I can help get the right information out to voters so they aren’t caught in “gotcha” moments at the polls.

Ms Kaminski’s comment on the messy passage of the vote suppressing bill Wisconsin AB7 is below the video.

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In Rush to Restrict Voting, Senate Majority Disregards Decency Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF WISCONSIN ® May 19, 2011

MADISON: In its rush to pass legislation to restrict voting before the recall elections, the majority party in the state Senate has shown an utter disregard for common respect and fair process. Proponents of
the bill like to point out the long periods the Legislature has devoted to “debate” of the issues, but their steamroller tactics have only undercut debate.

Earlier this week they systematically rejected almost 30 amendments to the photo ID bill offered by the minority party. The amendments would have made the law less restrictive for voters and saved millions of tax dollars. For example, one amendment would have protected elderly citizens who have been regular voters for decades but do not need a driver’s license. Another would have provided the funding needed to educate local election officials and voters in the new procedures. Yet another proposed to save millions of dollars by allowing UW-System student ID cards to be eligible for voting with an expiration date of four years rather than two years. The majority steadfastly refused to comment on the amendments, and they apparently did not see any reason to defend their flawed bill.

Finally, they cut off debate Thursday just as Senator Fred Risser was describing how one provision of the bill could affect an individual who cannot sign the poll book because of arthritis. He explained that, as the bill is written, election officials could withhold a ballot from such a person if they think she actually could sign the book. The majority would not wait a few minutes for Senator Risser to finish his statement, and they certainly were not going to consider this serious flaw in the legislation. They went ahead and took the vote while he was still speaking. Eight Senate Democrats did not participate in the vote because of the shameful procedural breach. Who can blame them, when members of the majority party show no regard for their equally-elected colleagues across the aisle?

Citizens expect their representatives to thoughtfully consider how the legislation they wish to pass will affect people in the state. We expect them to work out ways to accomplish their objectives while protecting the interests of all citizens. That was the goal of the framers of our state and national constitutions, and generations of lawmakers have worked to develop procedures to protect against abuse of power. It appears that those in power now would throw all of that away.

The League of Women Voters calls on Governor Walker to consider the significant problems with this bill and veto it, saving Wisconsin the cost of implementation, reduced participation in elections and possibly legal challenges. We urge the Legislature to act quickly to appropriate funds for the Government Accountability Board, which has little time to train local election officials and educate voters in the few weeks before the recall elections this summer. It is the responsibility of the Legislature to commit the funds to support the laws they pass. It is the least they could do.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that promotes informed and active participation in government. Through member-led research, education and advocacy, the League works to improve public participation in the democratic process and to champion public policy goals that are beneficial to all. There are 16 local Leagues in Wisconsin. More information at

The Ed Schultz Town Hall, Barrymore Theater, Madison, Ground Zero in the Wisconsin Movement.

I joined 1,300 people in the Barrymore Theater last night. This crowd needed absolutely no assistance in warming up. While we waited for start, one audience member in the front in green face paint and a fright wig, stood up to lead the chant “This is what Democracy looks like”, while a cowbell waving member clanged along.

The crowd was noticeably over 30-years-old and mostly white–a demographic that fits with Madison, Wisconsin. However I feel qualified to state that the mix of cultures and styles brought to the Barrymore by the Ed Schultz crowd was uniquely non-elitist and non-cocktail swilling – as the downtown Madison crowd is characterized by the local GOP.

The format of the evening was billed as “town hall” with microphones at either side of he theater, and so I expected to hear hours of testimony. Instead, we heard a series of brief pointed speeches followed by a conversational exploration of the events that have transpired in Wisconsin since February 11 of 2011 when Scott Walker unveiled Wisconsin Act 10.

The crowd was stacked with those absolutely committed to jumping through all of the hoops required to get there – and thus  -the energy level they brought to the evening was red hot.

To guarantee entry into this event, hundreds waited in line first at noon, and then again later at 4:30PM, and following, they waited inside the theater. We listened first to John Nichols, Stu Levitan, Ruth Conniff, and a representative from PR Watch, and finally, we saw the man of the hour, Ed Schultz.

I didn’t count how many times Ed was thanked for Continue reading

The Fab 14 on the Ed Schultz Show: “Whose side are you on?”

Why am I going to summarize this video? I love it. And I know a lot of you don’t have the patience for it and you might not like that constant yelling Ed Schultz does.

Also, it’s a pretty good framework for where things still stand right now between Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Scott “Don’t give a shit about your constitutional rights” Fitzgerald, and the power and energy of the impending recall elections against GOP Senators- recall elections that Scott Fitzgerald suggested he’d try to scuttle with a rule change yesterday.

Here’s what’s in this 15 minutes on Wisconsin from a recent Ed Schultz Show:

Walker calls Mark Miller’s letter and offer to meet “ridiculous”.

Walker says he’s assuming that Republican Senator Dale Schultz will vote “no” on his bill, siding with the Democrats. Democrats say they are applying pressure on moderate Republican Senator Mike Ellis.

To accomplish their goal of passing the Governor’s union-busting “budget repair” bill and also the draconian public-education-destroying regular budget bill, Republicans need 1 Democrat to come home and flip.  To defeat the Governor’s agenda, the Democrats need 3 Republicans to flip to “no” votes.

Senator Scott Fitzgerald announces that Dem. Senators Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen met with Walker allies. This announcement enrages Senator Jauch who says “Trust is completely broken down now. I don’t believe anything he says. [meaning Republican Senator Scott Fitzgerald]”

At the 1:19 mark, Ed talks with Senator Mark Miller and Senator Lena Taylor. Senator Miller says that in a recent press conference, Governor Walker claimed access to” ‘zero flexibility’. Senator Miller: “…and then he accuses us of not being able to negotiate”.

Senator Miller adds that Walker apparently does not know how to negotiate, and that is one of the reasons he wants to get rid of public bargaining.  Miller adds that the ability to negotiate is essential to working in the political arena.

Lena Taylor says that Republican Senator Dale Schultz has pretty much stated that he does not support the bill and wants an amendment to it [to keep collective bargaining rights]. She adds that Republican Senator Ellis has always worked in a practical way and he has a good relationship with Democratic Senator Risser. She says,

“Whose side are they on-those 19 Senators [Republican]? Are they on the side of Wisconsin workers? Or are they on Walker’s side?

Senator Miller calls the recall efforts “basically a do-over of the November election” and credits Governor Walker’s radical agenda for dividing Wisconsin. Senator Taylor adds that if the public were not energized to side with the workers, why would they be lining up around the block to volunteer in recall efforts against Republicans?

Ed Schultz asks, “What if you can’t change minds, how long are you willing to ‘hang in there’ and be absent?” Senator Taylor does not address the question directly. Instead she says,”It’s a question of whose side are you on, on the side of an unpopular governor or on the side of the workers?”

At the 5:08 mark, Senator Lena Taylor (full disclosure: my favorite Senator) closes saying,

“the recalls provide an opportunity for Wisconinites to take this baton and to really do what needs to be done to hold them [Republicans] accountable.” She adds something at the end — the Muhammad Ali style of tough talk I’m needing right about now:

“They’re gonna see ’em now, or they’re gonna hear ’em now, they’re gonna listen to ’em now, or they’re gonna have to deal with ’em later”.

Click to link into 15 minutes on Wisconsin's current crisis.