Wisconsin

UW Prof Opposed to Voter ID Totally Partisan

Policy

Barry Burden is a professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and on Wednesday he filed a report in federal court alleging that Wisconsin’s voter ID law disproportionally harms minorities and other groups. According to press reports, Burden filed the report on behalf of a cabal of leftwing groups including the hyper-partisan One Wisconsin Now and the ultra-leftwing Citizen Action of Wisconsin. The organizations are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin took to social media to call Burden and the organizations he partnered with “our allies” in the fight against voter ID.

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Both Citizen Action and One Wisconsin Now are so-called “dark money” groups of the sort Burden railed against in a tweet in February.

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This is not the first time Burden has used his perch at the publicly-funded university to wage war on voter ID laws. In January, Governing magazine reported that Burden criticized the state of North Carolina when he appeared as an expert in a federal court case in that state regarding a voter ID law. Burden, according to the article, hinted that North Carolina still does not afford the same civil rights protections to minorities as it affords to whites, and said the voter ID law does nothing to curb voter fraud.

Back in 2014, Burden worked with the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice in its lawsuit against Texas’ voter ID law. According to the Brennan Center, Burden was an expert witness in the trial because he had, “through historical and socioeconomic analysis” found “that SB 14 unduly burdens minority voters relative to white voters.”

In 2011, before Wisconsin even enacted a voter ID law, Burden joined with other UW professors in sending a memo to the Government Accountability Board’s Kevin Kennedy alleging that voter ID would be a bad policy to enact. The report was published on the GAB’s website.

Last fall, Burden criticized Republican lawmakers, and specifically Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, in a Wisconsin State Journal editorial about the future of the GAB. The professor defended the GAB’s performance even though numerous instances of bias at the supposedly non-partisan entity have been well documented by both watchdog groups and in lawsuits filed by individuals targeted and harassed by the agency.

“Indeed, the GAB is a Wisconsin idea Washington should copy,” Burden asserted while challenging Sanfelippo’s public comments about implementing a Federal Election Commission-style model in Wisconsin. “This would be a major step backward,” Burden said of Sanfelippo’s idea.

When lawmakers enacted legislation to restructure the GAB, Burden mourned the demise of the agency and the pending departure of its controversial leader, Kevin Kennedy.

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In an ironic twist, part of the lawsuit filed by liberals against Wisconsin’s voter ID law also targets changes made to the state’s early voting law and Burden has conducted academic research that – he claims – shows that early voting actually depresses voter turnout overall. But this reduction in overall voting, his study claims, is reversed when same-day voter registration is allowed. Wisconsin still allows for same-day voter registration.

During the hotly contested non-partisan Supreme Court election this year, Burden publicly mused – without any evidence – about the possibility that Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley (appointed to the Supreme Court by Walker) meeting each other during their respective times at Marquette University. Bradley was facing strong criticism at the time for editorials she wrote for the student newspaper at Marquette. She was a student when she penned the editorials.

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Burden also waded into the GOP presidential primary with a comment on social media criticizing Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina for talking about “taking the country back” from the powerful and well-connected when she and her husband share a multi-million dollar net worth. Burden, according to UW salary records compiled by the Wisconsin State Journal, makes $142,814 annually.

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