GOP legislator’s gripe belies motive behind Voter IDA top Republican legislator is upset landlords in the city of Madison are required to give voter registration forms to new tenants.
By: By Matt Pommer, Superior Telegram
A top Republican legislator is upset landlords in the city of Madison are required to give voter registration forms to new tenants.
State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said the city council’s requirement is “sheer arrogance,” calling it an added burden for landlords who “are already over-regulated in this state.”
But Grothman’s concern could be seen as more about the coming presidential election than for the owners of apartment buildings in Madison. Republicans have as their target victory in Wisconsin, made easier if some potential Democratic voters stay home on Election Day.
“One could argue that by the nature of their relationship, a landlord who gives a tenant a registration form is compelling someone to vote,” Grothman said. “One could see an 18-year-old college student feel they were being intimidated into voting with such a requirement.”
College students get many ads and printed material when the school year starts. They’re a pretty independent bunch. They didn’t get to college by being wallflowers back home.
The senator seemed to invite landlords to sue over the question, suggesting they should “find a way to strike a blow for freedom and avoid this new imposition.” Grothman said he assumed “most freedom-loving judges” would see it his way
But landlords in Madison probably have more pressing issues in dealing with their tenants, like paying the rent on time and avoiding damage to the property.
In the past, Grothman has been generous in his advice to Madison.
Several winters ago, he criticized the way the city was plowing snow after a heavy storm. Grothman said it would be better if the officials at the State Department of Transportation manage snow plowing on Madison streets.
State and city officials ignored his suggestion. Critics gently remind Grothman that he had long been an advocate for local governments making decisions that affect day-to-day life.
Earlier this month, Grothman joined the growing Republican cry for the State Supreme Court to approve a requirement that voters show a photo ID before they cast a ballot in the November general election. Those less likely to have a photo ID are the elderly, the poor and young people — the kind of folks who often vote for Democratic candidates.
Republicans claim there is fraud in Wisconsin elections. The cry is heard from Gov. Scott Walker and Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus. Grothman claims the photo ID provisions reflect the “widespread belief that there have been severe irregularities in Wisconsin in the last two presidential elections.” Alas, hard evidence is lacking to back up their “widespread belief.”
Two judges have issued permanent injunctions against the photo ID requirements. Those rulings are under appeal by Republicans, and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen wants the high court to bypass the appeals courts so the requirement is in place for the presidential election.
One important note: The injunctions came in challenges to the law that are based on the state constitution, not the federal constitution. Conservatives hold a 4-3 margin in the state’s highest court. Republicans and business-related money helped elect the conservative justices. The GOP seems to think now it’s time to collect on their investment.
“Time is of the essence,” said Grothman. “The vote will be very close, and we expect a close election nationally as well, even if the high court decision comes at a later date.”