Government and Political Roundup: AG wants to restore voter ID law in time for NovemberWisconsin News
-- The League of Women Voters takes issue with the state attorney general’s effort to restore the voter I-D law in time for the November elections.
The League of Women Voters takes issue with the state attorney general’s effort to restore the voter I-D law in time for the November elections. J-B Van Hollen said yesterday he would ask the State Supreme Court for a second time to directly review a pair of judicial rulings which struck down the photo I-D requirement for voting. But the justices refused to take up the cases last spring. And league director Andrea Kaminski says it would be a “grave error” to change the rules again for November. Her group won its Dane County lawsuit against the voter I-D mandate earlier this year – and a second Madison judge ruled the same way in a suit from black-and-Hispanic groups in Milwaukee. The state is challenging both rulings in appeals courts in Madison and Waukesha – and Van Hollen wants the Supreme Court to take direct control of both cases. Kaminski said Van Hollen is simply trying to restore a quote, “unconstitutional law which will make it extremely difficult or impossible for many qualified Wisconsin citizens to vote.” Van Hollen has said the appellate courts are acting too slowly. But League of Women Voters attorney Lester Pines disputes that. He says the case is moving quickly. And Pines said it would be a mistake for the Supreme Court to quote, “rush in on such an important constitutional issue as the right to vote.” Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan sided with a U-W Madison professor who said over 300-thousand voters do not have acceptable forms of I-D’s. Flanagan said getting one is a “substantial burden” for the poor – especially if they have to buy the required birth certificate. But a state demographer said almost everyone has the I-D’s they need to vote. And Van Hollen said people are frustrated that a quote, “common sense” law is being blocked. Republicans have long contended that a voter I-D law would fight fraud.
A new poll shows that Republican Mitt Romney got at least a bounce in Wisconsin, after he named Janesville’s Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. The firm of Public Policy Polling gives Romney a one-point lead over President Obama, 48-to-47 percent. That’s well within the margin of error of two-point-seven percent. But Romney’s doing much better than in early July, when the same poll had him trailing Obama by six points in the Badger State. U-W Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee says it’s too early to tell if Romney’s recent gain will take hold – but he says it appears to make Wisconsin more of a battleground state this fall. Wisconsinites appear to be split on Ryan – but they do give him the best approval rating among the four major candidates for president and vice president. Public Policy Polling gave Ryan a 49-percent approval rating compared to 46-percent for Obama, 45 for Romney, and 41 for the current vice president, Joe Biden. Also, 40-percent supported Ryan’s controversial Medicare reform package – in which seniors would get annual vouchers to buy private insurance. The selection of Ryan also appeared to unify Republicans more closely. Ninety-three percent of Republicans said they support the Romney-Ryan ticket, as opposed to 87-percent before Romney named his running mate. Public Policy Polling surveyed 13-hundred likely Wisconsin voters from last Thursday through Sunday.
A consultant for Governor Scott Walker has proposed a number of ideas for closing the so-called “skills gap” – the lack of trained workers for jobs which sit empty in Wisconsin. Tim Sullivan, who headed the former Bucyrus International of South Milwaukee, said the skills gap is hurting the state’s ability to compete in today’s economy. And he said the first thing the state should do is modernize its software in the Department of Workforce Development, so a host of agencies can keep track of job trends in real time. That alone, he said, would provide better information on the jobs that become available now and in the future. Sullivan also called for better communication among the state’s economic development groups, a guarantee that U-W students will get degrees in four years, a greater use of university research for business start-ups, earlier career planning programs in public schools, and lower taxes so good workers don’t leave. Walker called the report quote, “a good starting point for true reform.”