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by Sharon Rondeau

Will other states vote for a reduction in unionized workers' benefits in the coming years because of tough economic times?

(Jun. 10, 2012) — Despite “monitoring” by the U.S. Department of Justice of the June 5, 2012 Wisconsin recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, the assistant governor and nine state senate members, all incumbents retained their seats except for two state senators.

The mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett, unsuccessfully challenged Walker in a historic recall election.  The Republicans were expecting Democrat voter fraud, particularly in Milwaukee.

Members of labor unions were upset with Walker for signing a law which had limited their collective bargaining ability in order to balance the state’s budget, which was predicted to be a $3.6 million shortfall when Walker took office.

The state of Indiana passed legislation in 2005 to restrict collective bargaining, although Ohio voters overturned such a law signed by Gov. John Kasich in last November’s elections.  Other states are considering similar legislation, and two cities in California recently approved austerity measures in the wake of the economic downturn.

An initiative to begin a recall of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was abandoned after Walker’s victory.

Union membership in the U.S. has reportedly dropped from 26% in 1960 to 11% today.

The day prior to the election, Eric Holder’s Justice Department announced that it would be sending observers to ensure that the 1965 Voting Rights Act was not violated.  The Act was passed under then-President Lyndon B. Johnson and made it illegal for polling locations to administer a poll tax, literacy test, or any other kind of litmus test aimed at preventing blacks from voting.  The DOJ stated that observers were to be sent specifically to the city of Milwaukee in last Tuesday’s election, although one source claimed that the DOJ would monitor 12 cities.

A clerk working for the city of Milwaukee had reportedly predicted a high voter turnout, “up to 119%” of registered voters.  However, after all ballots were cast, the city of Milwaukee reported that 76.13% of registered voters had participated.

Although polls taken before June 5 indicated “a close race,” Walker won by an almost seven-point margin.  The day before the election, Wisconsin Democrats accused Walker and an aide of criminal activity.  The party had produced a brochure detailing “grassroots organizing” and “Community Empowerment Program” to “help to ensure that the election of people like Scott Walker doesn’t happen again.”

Two Wisconsin judges have stated that a law signed by Walker last year requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification is unconstitutional, which the state’s attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, has denied and said he will fight.  Van Hollen has stated that he believes Wisconsin’s voting laws are prone to fraud.

There was a report that union supporters from neighboring Michigan were “shipped” to Wisconsin in an apparent effort to boost Democrat Tom Barrett’s chances of ousting Walker.

The majority of states have passed voter identification laws with requirements varying from photo identification to a utility bill to verify the person’s eligibility to vote.  Alabama’s new law, scheduled to take effect in January 2014, is noted as “requiring preclearance by the USDOJ,” which brings into question the provision of the Tenth Amendment which gives states the ability to make their own laws.

Several states have laws which allow a voter, or elector, to register and vote on Election Day.  Four candidates vying for Montana Secretary of State oppose Montana’s current Election-Day voter registration law. There also exists a conflict between a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on term limits for federal public servants and a provision of the Montana Constitution.

During its recent legislative session, Connecticut added itself to those states which allow same-day voting.

It was reported that the Wisconsin Department of Justice “is also sending assistant attorneys general and special agents from Division of Criminal Investigation.”  Following the election, the state Department of Justice indicated that its Division of Criminal Investigation, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, had launched a probe into “several complaints regarding threats” which did not appear to have been directly associated with voting or election policies.

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