Hans von Spakovsky on the “political thicket” of partisan gerrymandering, the import of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Wisconsin redistricting case Gill v. Whitford, and the risk of transforming federal courts “into weapons of political warfare.”
Under the Voting Rights Act, states are also in trouble if race is the predominant factor in their redistricting. But they are allowed to use some race in redistricting to comply with the VRA and protect minority voting rights. How much race they can use is unclear —- it has to be “just right,” which is why I call it the Goldilocks Rule of Redistricting.
Until now, however, the Supreme Court has stayed out of political gerrymandering as opposed to claims over racial gerrymandering or unequal populations in districts. The holding in the Wisconsin case violates prior precedent of the Supreme Court. . . .
Drawing up political districts is, by its very nature, a political exercise by the legislative branch. How could one possibly determine how much or how little politics is acceptable in the redistricting process? The Constitution says nothing about this at all, other than to give state legislatures the authority to draw not only their own state legislative districts, but congressional districts as well. . . .
In Cooper v. Harris, a North Carolina redistricting case that the Supreme Court decided on May 22, dissenting Justice Samuel Alito echoed Justice Frankfurter when he warned the Court against transforming the federal courts “into weapons of political warfare.” Otherwise, they will “invite the losers in the redistricting process to seek to obtain in court what they could not achieve in the political arena.”
That is exactly what is going on this case.
Hillary Clinton has suggested any number of lame excuses for her loss to Donald Trump – including voter ID laws. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
Just last month, she chalked it up to “voter suppression” in Wisconsin. This spurious claim was a reference to the Badger State’s common-sense voter-ID law, which has been upheld by the courts. It followed on the heels of a tweet from Wisconsin’s Democratic senator, Tammy Baldwin, claiming the law had reduced voter turnout by 200,000 statewide.
Both claims relied on a study commissioned by Priorities USA Action and conducted by CIVIS USA, two liberal groups that actively supported Clinton’s presidential bid. Unfortunately for Clinton and Baldwin, though, the study has been roundly debunked. . . .
In short, there is no credible evidence that voter-ID laws have impeded turnout, especially among minorities and Democrats, as their opponents suggest.
Opponents of voter ID and other commonsense election integrity reforms enacted by Wisconsin’s Republican-led Legislature didn’t fare well in federal court last week.
A skeptical Seventh Circuit panel was “harshly critical of a federal judge’s finding that Wisconsin’s voter ID law discriminates against black voters” and found “little direct evidence to support ruling the law unconstitutional.”
At oral arguments Friday morning, a Seventh Circuit panel asked virtually no questions of Wisconsin Chief Deputy Solicitor General Ryan Walsh, who argued that the state provides its citizens with the “most generous, voter-friendly system in the nation.”
But U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook grilled plaintiff One Wisconsin’s attorney Bruce Spiva.
“The Supreme Court has said that knowledge of disparate impact does not prove discriminatory intent,” Easterbrook said, expressing his doubt that the nonprofit carried its burden of proof.
Arguments against the state’s early voting rules didn’t go over any better with the panel.
[Easterbrook] said those challenging Wisconsin’s voting laws were contending that Democrats can expand voting rules to help their party at the polls but Republicans can’t tighten them to their advantage.
“That can’t be right,” he said during arguments in a pair of Wisconsin cases.
His colleagues on the panel — Judges Michael Kanne and Diane Sykes — showed they had just as many doubts about lower court rulings that struck down voting rules set by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers.
La Crosse County prosecutors charged Onalaska felon on probation Mark Fischer with illegally voting in two 2016 elections. Fischer told authorities he knew he was ineligible but voted in the April presidential primary and November general election anyway because he “felt that this election was important.”
This wasn’t one of those “honest mistakes” voter fraud deniers like to blame, and Fischer seems to have made a rational assessment of the risk before committing his crime.
Onalaska election officials did make a mistake – twice – by failing to prevent an ineligible person from illegally voting. Catching these cases after the fact doesn’t stop illegal votes from being counted.
After pleading not guilty to voter fraud back in August, Troy Schiller admitted Tuesday to voting twice in the April 5, 2016 election, claiming he “got wrapped up in too much talk radio” and “made a careless decision.”
So “too much talk radio” made Schiller commit a felony that could have cost him 3.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine? Wood County Circuit Judge Nicholas Brazeau Jr. must’ve bought it. He called Schiller “a good guy” and sentenced him to just 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Felony voter fraud penalties aren’t much of a deterrent if they aren’t imposed.
Brazeau did note that just one vote can decide an election, and has in Wood County, which is why the judge denied Schiller’s request for no jail time at all.
How was Schiller able to carelessly commit his crime? According to Wood County Clerk Cindy Cepress,
Schiller was registered to vote in Pittsville and showed identification to vote there, Cepress said. He also went to the Dexter polling place, showed identification and showed proof he was living in Dexter, Cepress said. While state election laws require identification to vote, the identification does not have to have a current address, Cepress said.
The Wisconsin recount may have a surprise in store after all. Actually, it’s not a “surprise” to anyone with ballot-counting experience:
Thanks to the efforts of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, a recount is underway in Wisconsin. It is highly unlikely to change the outcome — as Hillary Clinton’s campaign has stated — but it is much more likely to overturn some conventional wisdom about counting votes. In particular, we may learn, yet again, that computers are better than humans at counting ballots.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is continuing its practice of deploying election integrity teams around the state on Election Day, according to the state’s Attorney General Brad Schimel:
“Voters in Wisconsin must have faith that when they cast their ballot, the integrity of their vote will be protected,” said Attorney General Schimel. “Our election integrity teams are well prepared to protect the democratic process in our state on Election Day.”
Assistant attorneys general and special agents from the Division of Criminal Investigation will be sent in teams to the counties Brown, Dane, Outagamie, Rock, Milwaukee, as well as the cities of Eau Claire, Kenosha, La Crosse, Racine, Stevens Point, Waukesha, and Wausau.
U.S. Western District Judge James Peterson on Thursday ordered Wisconsin to expand its voter ID public education efforts, including creating new materials about the petition process for voters who don’t have the documents otherwise required to obtain a free state-issued ID.
“After yet another attempt by the plaintiffs to strike down voter ID, the law remains in effect for the November election,” said DOJ Spokesman Johnny Koremenos.
The state has been offering voters free photo identification cards since Act 23 passed in 2011, and in January 2012 launched its “Bring It to the Ballot” public education campaign ahead of the February 2012 election that was the first to require voter ID – a campaign that was immediately squelched by a March 2012 injunction resulting from the first of many legal actions seeking, unsuccessfully, to strike down Wisconsin’s voter ID law.
A “significant victory for the people of Wisconsin” and election integrity:
A federal appeals court declined Friday to hear an appeal before a full panel of judges on the court to Wisconsin’s voter ID provision before November.
The decision deals a setback to the American Civil Liberties Union and other challengers to the law.
The court said the provision of the law can remain in place for now based on the representation of the state that it had enacted a rule for the next election that requires the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to automatically mail a free photo ID to anyone who comes to the DMV one time and initiates the free ID process.
A Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesman called the Seventh Circuit’s decision to deny plaintiffs’ en banc petitions “a significant victory for the people of Wisconsin” that “ensures that Voter ID will be in place for the upcoming election in November.”
Another win for voter ID, and election integrity, in Wisconsin.
“This is the second time in three days a court has granted [Attorney General Brad] Schimel’s motion for stay in a case challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID laws.”