LETTER: Proposed bill would protect voter freedoms

To the editor:

For decades, Wisconsin ranked near the top in voter participation in the nation. In contrast, when Republicans took control of the governorship and the Legislature in 2010, they pushed through a voter ID law that disenfranchised many elderly, urban, non-driving residents, and college students.

When we vote, we express our opinion about what we value. Our elected officials should be making it easier, not harder, for all Wisconsin citizens to vote.

Currently, the minority Democratic Party in the Wisconsin Legislature is trying to put forward a means to protect voting freedom with a Voter Protection Act. This bill would simplify and dovetail voter registration with state agencies such as getting a driver’s license, a marriage license or registering property.

The act would also require local governments to give voters the straightforward information they need such as locations, times and how to vote. This would go a long way to address the increasing use of disinformation and threats employed by partisan third-party interests intended to intimidate, confuse and suppress voter participation in our government.

High school students, in particular, should also become better prepared for their voting responsibility as they reach the age of 18. A voter access and information package would give them important voting information so they can engage in the voting process. Students turning 18 would get voter registration forms and nonpartisan information about the importance of voting in their social studies classes.

This may all sound like common-sense good ideas to the vast majority of Wisconsinites, but will the gerrymandered-control of our state legislature by Republicans even allow these ideas to come to the floor for discussion and a vote?

Because Wisconsin is a battleground state, voting laws will make an increasingly important difference for upcoming elections. The Republican-controlled legislature should not be given free rein to create roadblocks that disenfranchise voters and their ability to vote. As American citizens, voting is one of our most valued symbols of our freedom. Let’s not lose it or diminish it like the banana republics, the theocracies and the Soviet-style autocracies of the world.

Contact your legislators and tell them you want fair elections, which entails making it easy for all of us to vote. If you aren’t registered to vote or your registration needs to be changed, go to https://myvote.wi.gov.

Mary Arnold, Shawano