State Government and Political News: Another poll gives Walker a five-point leadWisconsin News
-- A new poll gives Governor Scott Walker a slim lead over his Democratic recall challenger Tom Barrett.
MADISON - A new poll gives Governor Scott Walker a slim lead over his Democratic recall challenger Tom Barrett.
The Wisconsin Public Radio-Saint Norbert College survey has Walker at 50-percent, to 45-percent for the Milwaukee mayor. That’s right at the poll’s five-percent margin of error. And it gives Walker about the same lead as several other polls over the past couple weeks. Saint Norbert questioned 406 likely voters from last Thursday until Tuesday. Barrett spokesman Phil Walzak called the poll “dubious.” He cited what he called a long six-day survey period. Almost three-fourths of Barrett supporters said he should be elected because of his character, and his ability to unite people. Wendy Scattergood of Saint Norbert said lots of folks just want to quote, “bring peace to Wisconsin.” Just over half of Walker supporters said his biggest success was eliminating the state’s budget deficit. Twenty-one percent said Walker’s biggest achievement was his near-elimination of public union bargaining privileges. But almost 60-percent of all respondents said public employees should have the right to collectively bargain for wages – and a slightly larger percentage thought they should bargain for health care and retirement benefits. Fifty-one percent said last year’s battle over bargaining was more about reducing the power of public unions – and 38-percent said it was more about slashing the state’s budget deficit.
Concerns of voter fraud are popping up again, as we get closer to the June fifth recall elections for governor and five other state offices. But the Appleton Post-Crescent says the low numbers of fraud cases in the last two presidential elections don’t support those concerns. The paper said a bi-partisan Election Fraud Task Force only charged 20 people with election fraud in Wisconsin after the 2008 presidential contest. And that represents just seven-thousandths of one percent of all the votes cast. In the 2004 presidential contest, the Brennan Center for Justice found only seven fraud cases in Milwaukee County – or two-thousandths of one percent of the statewide vote. But Republican Governor Scott Walker recently told the Weekly Standard that there’s plenty of voter fraud to justify the photo I-D law his party approved last year. He told the magazine that in close Wisconsin elections quote, “you probably have to win at least 53-percent of the vote to account for fraud – one or two points, potentially.” And Walker said the court challenges to the I-D law were specifically aimed at his recall. Photo ID’s will not be required for voting in the June 5th elections, while the courts consider whether the ID mandate is constitutional.
State elections’ officials report a strong interest in absentee voting for the June fifth recall contests. The Government Accountability Board said at least 90,000 absentee ballots were given out at local clerks’ offices and mailed to voters as of yesterday afternoon. That’s much more than the 68,000 ballots issued for the May eighth recall primaries. About 230,000 absentee ballots were returned for the 2010 governor’s race. But since then, majority Republicans in the state Legislature shortened the period for early voting from a month before Election Day to two weeks before. And they cut it off on the Friday before Election Day instead of the Monday before. That means people can request ballots by mail through next Thursday. And in-person absentee voting at clerks’ offices will end a week from tomorrow. Milwaukee’s Election Commission has had extended hours this week to handle the demand. And Milwaukee and Madison will provide early voting hours throughout the Memorial Day Weekend.
A woman whose court battle inspired a federal law on equal pay for women campaigned in Madison yesterday for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. Lily Ledbetter blasted Governor Scott Walker for signing a bill last month that prohibits victims of job discrimination from suing their employers in state courts for punitive damages. It repealed a 2009 law by Democrats which made it easier to file-and-win damages than in the more expensive federal court system – which Republicans say is still a remedy for those discriminated against. No one ever filed suit under the state law, but Ledbetter said it was because employers made sure they were in compliance. Women’s groups have used the repeal against Walker in the recall election, saying it’s part of a national “war on women” by the GOP. The Walker camp downplayed Ledbetter’s comments, and accused Barrett of trying to steer attention away from his record as Milwaukee mayor. Ledbetter won a $3.8 million dollar jury award after being paid less than her co-workers over 19 years at a tire plant in Alabama. But the U.S. Supreme Court nullified the award in 2007, saying she filed her claim too late. Congress passed a law in 2009 to give women more time to file such claims, and it was the first bill President Obama signed into law.