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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

Issue of the Week: Changing Voting Rules—Again

Plus: Recall Walker Update: It's On

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On Tuesday, the majority of the 16-member Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) staged a coup: They gutted the independence of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board (GAB)—a board made up of retired judges from both parties—which oversees elections, so that Gov. Scott Walker will be able to approve rules on using student IDs as voter ID next year. Walker will also be able o review rules on downloading recall petitions from the Internet.

JCRAR is chaired by state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and state Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon)—two reliable allies of Gov. Scott Walker, the wealthy Koch brothers, and the ultra-right wing, anti-government, pro-big corporation American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). To say that they consistently vote in favor of the 1% would be an understatement. They don't even realize that there is a 99% whose voices need to be heard.

On Tuesday, the JCRAR Republicans found a way to use the power of the state bureaucracy to torpedo the GAB's advice.

Drawing on a change urged by Walker and approved by his lapdog Republican allies in the Legislature earlier this year, the JCRAR usurped the independence of the GAB and gave Walker the power to have a say on new election rules.

Apparently drawing a redistricting map that secures a Republican lock on power for the next decade wasn't enough to satisfy Walker and his allies.

The Republicans on the committee wanted to absolutely ensure that the new voter ID law disenfranchises as many potential voters as possible and that recalls are difficult to organize.

"Republicans are trying to make it harder for students to vote and they should be ashamed of themselves," said state Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) in a press statement. "Today, Republicans sent a strong signal that Scott Walker wants the fairest election he can rig."

Heroes of the Week
: Milwaukee Rescue Mission Volunteers

Founded in 1893, the Milwaukee Rescue Mission (MPM) continues to provide food, shelter and services to the poor and homeless in the community. The MRM's Safe Harbor programs for men and Joy House programs for women and children offer short- and long-term solutions for individuals and families in dire circumstances with nowhere else to turn. The shelters offer a secure place to sleep, food and access to educational and training programs. The Mission's CrossTrainers Academy offers schooling to children of adults staying in the shelter and other at-risk kids.

Each Thanksgiving, the MRM prepares and serves a holiday meal to thousands of area residents who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The meal, like MRM's other programs, relies heavily on volunteer help. Readers interested in helping the Milwaukee Rescue Mission feed the hungry this Thanksgiving or volunteering at one of the shelters are encouraged to call 414-935-0241 or visit www.milmission.org.

Recall Walker Update: It's On

Although Republicans and their conservative allies have tried every dirty trick in the book to thwart a recall of Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch—including promises to collect signatures so that they can be destroyed—United Wisconsin's recall drive officially launched on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Petition circulators have 60 days to collect more than 540,000 signatures to recall Walker and Kleefisch. Go to www.unitedwisconsin.com for instructions on signing recall petitions.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, United Wisconsin, We Are Wisconsin and their partners will rally on the Capitol steps in Madison to support the recall; the pre-rally activities begin at 11 a.m. For more information, go to www.unitedwisconsin.com.
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