Will Voters Boot Wisconsin Republicans? 7 Things to Know About Tuesday's Recall Elections
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Tuesday, August 9 is going to be a big day not just for Wisconsin politics, but nationally. It was this winter, after all, that the Capitol building in Madison was the scene of not just protest, but a full-on occupation by workers and allies enraged by Republican governor Scott Walker's bill stripping collective bargaining rights from the state's public employees. Teachers, students, organized labor, local and national progressive groups, leaders, and even rock stars convened in Wisconsin to join the rallies, but the bill was passed anyway.
The movement in Wisconsin pivoted then from massive protest to massive organizing, and now Tuesday will see the recall elections of six Republican state senators who supported Walker's anti-worker bill. One Democratic state senator, Dave Hansen, has already successfully retained his seat after a July 19 election, and two other Democrats face recalls on August 16.
Just three wins, and the Democrats regain control of the state senate. And the polls look good to do just that. But Walker and his corporate and Tea Party cronies aren't going to give up easily, and with all political junkies' eyes on Wisconsin in the coming days, expect plenty of drama and dirty tricks.
Only three times in U.S. history have recall elections switched party control of a legislative body; Wisconsin has only seen two legislators recalled in its history. This is an unprecedented fight, and it's one where Democrats, progressives, and organized labor have been on the offensive. It has huge implications.
"I believe if given the facts they're going to make good decisions," Walker told reporters of the recalls. We couldn't agree more. We've compiled a list of things to keep in mind while the voters make those decisions.
1. Voter suppression
Wisconsin native Meredith Clark called Scott Walker's voter ID bill his “evil genius masterpiece.” The bill doesn't go into effect until 2012, but it requires poll workers to start asking for photo ID right away—a surefire tactic for confusing and driving away voters who believe they don't have the right to vote without these documents. (Though it's unlikely to have an impact before the recalls Tuesday, Walker also ordered closed several DMVs in Democratic districts, making it harder for voters to get state-issued photo ID.)
And that's just the legal voter suppression.
The other kind? Well, Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers' group) sent out absentee ballot applications to at least two of the districts that are holding recalls with instructions to mail the ballot back days after the real deadline of August 9. AFP called the mislabeled date a typo, but this isn't the first time AFP has been involved in some election shenanigans in Wisconsin, as AlterNet's Adele Stan reported.
It may be the first time, though, that they're so openly colluding with the religious right; as Stan wrote:
“The address for the "Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center" on the return envelope is a Madison post office box, 1327, that is the mailing address for Wisconsin Family Action, a religious-right group that is virulently anti-gay, and was a vocal supporter of Wisconsin's 2006 anti-same-sex-marriage ballot measure, which passed into law.”
A Milwaukee prosecutor also looked into charges that Wisconsin Right to Life and Family Action were offering gift cards to volunteers who signed up anti-choice voters to vote by absentee ballot in the recalls.
After a closely-watched state Supreme Court election was decided by 14,000 votes mysteriously found by a Waukesha County clerk, it's a safe bet that there will be more battles over the voting process in the next week.