Mostly under citizens’ radar, political partisans scheme for electoral edge.


IF WE WANTED TO make a bet, this is probably a safe one: Not many people are paying attention to a court battle in which the stakes are removing up to 209,000 names from Wisconsin’s voter rolls.

But if the daily political headlines involve things like the upcoming Iowa caucuses, the pending impeachment trial or fallout from the latest confrontation with Iran, the proverbial rubber tends to meet the road on backwater journeys through the arcane vistas of voting rights.

It is not a coincidence that liberals and conservatives are waging a courtroom war over a voter purge. Just like it has not been a coincidence that liberals and conservatives mostly have staked out different positions on political gerrymandering. Throw in battles over alleged voter fraud, early voting deadlines, what is or is not a proper voter ID, the nuances of campaign finance disclosures and so forth, and a pattern begins to emerge.


ELECTIONS DO NOT turn only on candidate debates or counting ballots. In many instances elections turn on who manages to get control of where goal posts are placed on the field of competition.

Managing to have even the slightest impact on who shows up to vote, and where a person shows up to vote, can be the difference between a win or a loss.

That’s because elections — local, state, national — often are decided by the slimmest of margins in today’s polarized tribal world. Fewer than 100,000 votes spread across three states made Donald Trump president in 2016. Fewer than 30,000 votes sent Scott Walker home and placed Tony Evers in the governor’s office.

Which is why political interests pay close attention — even while citizens do not — to the most inner workings of the process. If one side or the other can influence the electorate for a given race on a given day it can make all the difference.


OBVIOUSLY, THAT IS NOT what you were taught in junior high civics class. Instead, you were told about all the beauties of free elections and how the people are really the rulers.

Granted, it is supposed to work like that. Sadly, though, the practitioners within the political system are constantly scheming ways to get an edge. It explains why there’s always this or that court case, or some scramble over drawing boundaries or what hours are set for early voting. A discouraged voter who stays home on Election Day can be some candidate’s ticket to a win.

So let’s call that what it is — corruption.