State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Pastor says the majority of states have failed to adopt or even embrace reforms that would restore confidence and trust in America’s flawed election system. As a result, Pastor says problems with this year’s elections are inevitable.
The biggest problem according to Pastor will be voter registration lists. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 gave the states until January 1, 2006 to complete integrated, interactive lists. A few states have yet to comply. There has not been a thorough review to determine the quality of the lists. So a number of problems are still likely to occur in this year’s primary and general elections. Pastor also points out “about one third of the states have bottom-up databases that rely on counties and municipalities to retain their own registration lists and submit information to the state rather than the other way around. In contrast, top-down lists typically deliver information in real time.”
There are problems with new computerized systems that have replaced archaic punch card and lever voting. A paper trail is necessary in the event of recounts, but Congress has failed to fund and provide voter-verified paper-audit trails. Some states are so concerned that they are thinking about dumping their electronic voting systems in favor of a paper system prior to the November election.
Pastor says, “Poll workers are overworked and underpaid. They put in a 14- to 16-hour workday, face complex job requirements after little training and generally receive scant compensation.”
Little progress has been made on photo ID’s. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue is scheduled this summer.
Pastor’s gloomy summary is that, “Voters are likely to face hassles with registration lists and voting machines. Poll workers will remain under-trained and overworked. Election management remains under the thumb of partisan officials, and voter identification is likely to remain problematic. 2008 is unlikely to be an improvement over 2006.”
Pastor’s employer, the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University released a study last month providing more evidence that photo ID’s are not obstacles to voting.
A random sample of registered voters in Indiana, Mississippi and Maryland found that only 1.2 percent of registered voters lack a government-issued photo ID.
More than two-thirds of all registered voters in the three states believe the electoral system would be trusted more if people had to show an ID to vote.
The study also demonstrates that a very small percentage of registered voters will be adversely affected by a photo ID requirement.
Nearly a quarter of the registered voters in the three states lack confidence that their votes will be counted accurately, and an even greater number perceive that fraud is more widespread than experts believe.
Other key findings:
The issue of showing a photo ID as a requirement of voting does not appear to be a serious concern in the three surveyed states.
Almost all registered voters have an acceptable form of photo ID available (e.g., driver’s license, passport, military ID or some combination of these documents).
About 1.2 percent of registered voters do not have a photo ID, but half of those have documents proving citizenship, and most of the states have provisional or absentee ballots or other exceptions that could permit people to vote.
Registered voters without photo IDs tended to be female, African-American, and Democrat. However, that number of registered voters in the survey was too small (24 of 2,000) to draw definitive conclusions about this group.
A much larger problem among poor and minorities is not registered voters without IDs, but those who are not registered.
More than 97 percent of all registered voters in the three states surveyed could produce proof of citizenship, either a birth certificate, a passport, or naturalization papers.
Nearly one-fifth of registered voters saw or heard of fraud at their own polling place, and an even larger number, 64 percent of all respondents - reported hearing of fraud elsewhere.
Nearly all, 96 percent of voters in this study said showing a photo ID would not make them less likely to vote.
Opposition to voter IDs has come largely from those who fear that this requirement will disenfranchise voters who do not have IDs or would find it difficult to acquire them. But they were unable to locate a single individual in Indiana who was prevented from casting a ballot because they lacked an ID.
Here is the full report, Voter IDs Are Not the Problem: A Survey of Three States.
A new hotline will assist Wisconsin homeowners to prevent foreclosures.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) has announced the start of the hotline, operated by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. It helps homeowners come up with ways to keep their homes.
Representatives of the foundation will talk to a homeowner’s lender about developing different payment options or refinancing a mortgage.
The Appleton Post-Crescent reports, “There were 2,385 foreclosure filings for the month of November (in Wisconsin) according to the latest data available from California-based RealtyTrac, which was a 4.8 percent drop from October."
Here is how to get help.
The hotline number is toll-free: 888-995-4673.6
Help is available on the Internet.
WISN-TV Channel 12 News has produced this story on the hotline.
A state Senate committee defeated a proposal by the Governor that would have provided health insurance to millions of uninsured Californians.
Senators could not support the sweeping plan knowing the state must deal with a $14.5 billion deficit.
As I have blogged in the past, California is one of a few heavily-populated states considering picking up the large tab for government health care. Illinois and Pennsylvania also reviewed the idea, but failed to pass any plan. Now California is struggling to reach consensus, and that scenario is an omen for government health care.
The California plan is similar to the current program operating in Massachusetts that is experiencing all kinds of problems, including the recent revelation that spending for the plan will increase by $400 million this year. Massachusetts taxpayers will bear the burden of paying for the increase.
Support for government health care could be dwindling. The New York Times says the overall issue of health care is not as critical to Americans. A New York Times/CBS News poll taken this month showed that only seven percent of those surveyed believed health care was the country’s most pressing problem. Health care came in third behind the economy and the Iraq War.
Currently, there is a federal ban on this brutal procedure. A ban at the state level is needed so that state and local authorities could, like federal officials, prosecute violators.
The language of AB 710 is the same as the 2003 federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that has been ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brenda Pratt-Shafer, R.N., testified at the hearing about her first-hand experience assisting a doctor on a partial birth abortion. Her remarks were similar to testimony she gave before Congress in 1996. Here is the text of that testimony that is, as you might expect, quite graphic.
AB 710 has 53 co-sponsors in the state Assembly, enough votes for approval in that house. There are 16 co-sponsors in the state Senate, meaning that if the bill is scheduled for floor debate in the Senate, another vote is needed for passage.
Here is a copy of AB 710.
When President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 in November 2003, he said the following:
“For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way. Today, at last, the American people and our government have confronted the violence and come to the defense of the innocent child.
The best case against partial birth abortion is a simple description of what happens and to whom it happens. It involves the partial delivery of a live boy or girl, and a sudden, violent end of that life. Our nation owes its children a different and better welcome. The bill I am about to sign protecting innocent new life from this practice reflects the compassion and humanity of America.
In the course of the congressional debate, the facts became clear. Each year, thousands of partial birth abortions are committed. As Doctor C. Everett Koop, the pediatrician and former Surgeon General has pointed out, the majority of partial birth abortions are not required by medical emergency. As Congress has found, the practice is widely regarded within the medical profession as unnecessary, not only cruel to the child, but harmful to the mother, and a violation of medical ethics.
The facts about partial birth abortion are troubling and tragic, and no lawyer's brief can make them seem otherwise. By acting to prevent this practice, the elected branches of our government have affirmed a basic standard of humanity, the duty of the strong to protect the weak. The wide agreement amongst men and women on this issue, regardless of political party, shows that bitterness in political debate can be overcome by compassion and the power of conscience. And the executive branch will vigorously defend this law against any who would try to overturn it in the courts.
The late Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey once said that: when we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins. This is the generous and merciful spirit of our country at its best. This spirit is reflected in the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.”
Wisconsin needs to adopt a similar ban.
The RIN is a management tool used to track voter records in the official statewide voter registration list. The number alone does not reveal any confidential data about the assigned individual. It appears on poll lists and other lists requested by the public. Only an authorized user of the statewide voter registration list can access and utilize the number, and extraordinary steps must be taken to redact the information from various documents provided by the statewide voter registration list.
Why is this number so critical?
The number has to be on documents to allow local election officials to determine the voter record and to update records more efficiently.
The law designating confidentiality of the RIN is preventing the Government Accountability Board from implementing new technology that would benefit voters. The Board wants to begin using a new function of the statewide voting registration list called VPA, or Voter Public Access. VPA would allow you to log onto the internet and find out whether you are registered to vote, the location of your polling place, the districts you live in, and the current office holders. You could also find out whether your provisional ballot was counted for a particular election.
There is a problem, however, with current law.
The screen that shows whether the voter is registered contains the confidential RIN, and the Government Accountability Board is precluded from augmenting the new VPA.
I voted in favor of Assembly Bill 295 that will remove the confidentiality of registration identification numbers. With Wisconsin’s all-important Presidential primary just weeks away, it is critical the state take the necessary steps to allow the start of VPA that will be of great service to voters statewide.