The incredibly close 2016 presidential election was decided in three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. A top Republican in one of those three states just made a stunning admission.

In a recent interview on conservative talk radio, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel admitted to WISN host Vicki McKenna that the state’s controversial voter ID law made it possible for Republican candidates to have wall-to-wall victories in 2016.

“We battled to get voter ID on the ballot for the November ’16 election,” Schimel said on April 12. “How many of your listeners really honestly are sure that Sen. [Ron] Johnson was going to win reelection or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin if we didn’t have voter ID to keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest and have integrity?”

Wisconsin’s contest was the second-closest margin of victory for Trump after Michigan, winning the Badger State by just 22,748 votes. A 2017 study by the University of Wisconsin found that 11.2 percent of the state’s nonvoters were prevented from voting due to the state’s voter ID law. In Wisconsin’s two largest counties alone — Dane and Milwaukee, which are heavily Democratic — this amounted to anywhere from 16,801 to 23,252 nonvoters. The statewide count of people prevented from voting due to the state’s voter ID law was as many as 45,000.

“It is very probable that between the photo ID law and the changes to voter registration, enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin.” Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Neil Albrecht told Mother Jones.

Wisconsin is one of just six states that strictly requires voters to have a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Even though free photo ID cards were provided, the legislature allocated zero advertising toward the free ID cards until June of 2016, and out of all movie theater advertisements educating voters about the free ID cards, not one was in Milwaukee — the state’s largest and bluest city.

States with voter ID laws (map by National Conference of State Legislatures)

The motivation behind these voter ID laws is, ostensibly, “voter fraud,” with voter ID proponents warning of thousands or even millions of people illegally casting ballots more than once, or in someone else’s name. However, out of more than 135 million ballots cast in 2016, the Washington Post only found four documented cases of actual voter fraud. In 2014, an investigation by Loyola Law School-Los Angeles professor Justin Levitt found just 31 credible cases of voter fraud out of more than one billion ballots cast since 2000.

While there were undoubtedly some failings within the Democratic Party’s 2016 strategy, like never sending Hillary Clinton to personally campaign within the state, the fact Wisconsin’s Republican attorney general is openly admitting that the photo ID law won Donald Trump the election should be all the proof anyone needs that the motivation behind these laws is not fairness or integrity, but partisanship.


Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.

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