Reading Time: 3 minutes

ID law dissuades some voters; WisDOT pays twice for materials; recipients unaware of work requirement; immigrants help Dane County economy; ‘disaster’ looms in Lake Superior

Of note: This week we highlight our own story about Wisconsin’s voter ID law, an on-again, off-again requirement that has been repeatedly challenged in court and remains the target of two pending lawsuits. We found that such laws, as predicted, depress voter turnout, especially among students, the elderly and people of color. We talked to people on the front lines, including Anita Johnson, who has been helping Wisconsinites vote for 25 years. “Voting should be one of the easiest things you can do,” Johnson told our reporter, Cameron Smith. “And it allows you to participate in democracy. So when you put up problems like the voter ID law, people say ‘Forget it, I’m not going to vote.’ ”

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Dee is the managing editor and Andy is the executive director.

Thanks for reading!

To have the free WisconsinWeekly newsletter (as well as story alerts and news about the Center) delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here! You can change your preferences at any time.


Voter ID linked to lower turnout in Wisconsin, other states; students, people of color, elderly most affected

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — September 30, 2018

In the latest report in our Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People series, Cameron Smith explores the ways in which residents are dissuaded or prevented from voting by Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement. Smith investigates hurdles that can keep students, seniors and small town residents from getting the documents they need to vote, and she reports on studies that show such photo ID requirements reduce voter turnout.

Investigation: Wisconsin DOT knowingly paid twice on stretch of roadwork for Zoo Interchange

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — September 28, 2018

This is one of those stories where it’s easy to get lost in the technical terms and big numbers, but of interest here is a single duplicate line in a contractor’s bill that cost the Wisconsin Department of Transportation $404,250 for nothing at all. A Wisconsin DOT project engineer found the error in advance and alerted his supervisors, but when the contracting firm was asked to drop the item, it responded with a $52,552 administrative fee for eliminating the line. Within weeks, reports the Journal Sentinel, “the state reversed its position and quietly cancelled the contract modification.”

One big problem with Medicaid work requirement: People are unaware it exists

New York Times — September 24, 2018

In April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to expand work requirements for recipients of federal aid. Arkansas was the first state to test such a requirement for Medicaid, announcing in September that more than 4,300 people had been dropped from the Medicaid rolls. State officials had publicized the new rules by mail, emails, phone, social media, flyers, and training for medical providers, but many never got the message. In addition, beneficiaries must report their work online, and Arkansas has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the country. Previously from WCIJ: Wisconsin to force parents to work for FoodShare despite doubts about its effectiveness

Report: Immigrants added $3.4 billion to Dane County’s gross domestic product in 2016

Wisconsin State Journal — October 1, 2018

As immigrant communities across Wisconsin reel from the recent “enforcement surge” in which federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 83 people — and 20 in Dane County — a new report from the bipartisan advocacy group New American Economy reveals the economic contributions immigrants have made to the county. According to the State Journal, the report, which was commissioned about a year ago by Jewish Social Services of Madison, the city of Madison and the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, “just happened to be completed after the ICE enforcement in the area.” Earlier from WCIJ: How immigrants became the backbone of dairies and how to keep the milk flowing in America’s Dairyland

A slow-moving ‘disaster’ is threatening Lake Superior and way of life

Bridge Magazine — September 18, 2018

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, five miles of Lake Superior’s coastline are covered with a dark, coarse sand left over from the mining boom. About 86 years ago, Mohawk Mining Co. shut down its stamp mill and left behind as much as 23 million metric tons of crushed rock, which slowly seep into the lake. Residents play and walk their dogs atop the piles, but below the water’s surface, the sand leeches arsenic and copper and threatens to smother the 2,200-acre Buffalo Reef, which produces 22 percent of commercial fish in southern Lake Superior.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.