There were seven candidates running to replace him, hence the need for a special primary election.
Some of the candidates were State Senator Tim Carpenter and Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Mark Borkowski. Others included Bob Delgadillo, a veteran firefighter and the laughingstock candidate, Michael Lutz, the guy who issued death threats against District Attorney John Chisholm and his family.
As that I am a resident of the 11th District and that I take my right to vote very seriously, I went to exercise that right after work, even though the Republicans have taken great pains to make voting as onerous and difficult as they could without openly going full Jim Crow.
When I arrived at my polling place, it was at first business as usual. They looked my name up in their ledger, and just like every time that I've voted for the past 32 years, no one had voted under my name.
But then things became surreal.
The woman asked me to state my address. I don't understand how this protected my vote since it was printed there in the ledger and was easy enough to read if I hadn't known it already.
Then came the glorious moments that Scott Walker and the Republicans had spent years and millions of dollars for - showing my picture ID. The clerk took only a precursory look at it and had already checked me off before I showed it to her.
Ah, but the fun wasn't over yet. Because when it comes to all things Republican, there's more.
There's always more.
They also had new voting machines and new ballots. Instead of drawing a line to complete an arrow, one filled in the circle by the name of the candidate you wanted to vote for.
And instead of the old small scanner machine, there was a much bigger machine. This new machine resembled, perhaps intentionally, a garbage cart with an electronic tablet or mini-laptop sitting atop it.
And this is when I wondered if my vote was actually being protected. When I went to slip the ballot in the machine, I had a small amount of difficulty getting it to go in. Even though the ballot hadn't been fully inserted into the scanner, the display on the tablet/laptop showed that it was being scanned! How the machine was scanning a ballot before it was inserted was something the clerks couldn't explain.
With all the stories of how easily voting machines can be hacked and tampered with, it left me feeling uneasy. Maybe my vote isn't being protected after all.
I looked at the machine on all sides to see if I could find the name of the manufacturer, but there was nothing that indicated who made the thing.
To add to my nervousness and suspicions, even though it was a relatively small race with only a couple thousand votes cast, it took them longer to report the results than it did for them to call the recall election in 2012.
Most people that I had spoken to had expected the general election to be between Carpenter and Delgadillo. Surprisingly, the race now looks like it will be between Carpenter and Borkowski. I'm sure it's just coincidence that the firefighter didn't win in an area that has a lot of first responders living in it and that Borkowski is a Republican.
When I got home, my wife, who had voted earlier in the day, and I discussed our experiences with the new voting system. We talked about how hard it would be fore someone who didn't have an ID already to vote.
What really sent chills down our spines is what we will be facing when we move in a few months. We agreed that we are going to have to make sure to allow us enough time to get to the DMV to have our driver licenses changed to the new address, especially since Walker has a company in California producing them and that it takes weeks to get the new IDs. Then, when we finally do have the new IDs, we have to make sure we get to City Hall a month before the next election so that we can be properly registered.
Since the next election primary will be in February, we figure we will have to start the whole process no later than Thanksgiving. And that's hoping and praying that there are no snafus along the way.
My wife and I agreed that we were smart and fortunate to both have union jobs where we are able to take off for the two days that we will need to go to both the DMV and City Hall. We couldn't even imagine trying to make it work if we weren't able to get off of work to take care of these things. We thought of the people that are living from check to check and unable to take any time off to get these things done. Especially if those people live in rural areas where the DMV offices are far and few between with very, very limited hours of operation. And if those people also had to go through the extra hoops of trying to attain their birth certificates or other documents to get their IDs in the first place...
Overall, the need to show a picture ID did nothing - nothing! - to protect our votes which had never been jeopardized in the first place. What it did do was making voting much more difficult and time consuming and costly (Oh, look, Jim Crow made it here after all!) than necessary or appropriate. And to top it off, it leaves one with an uneasy feeling that going through it all wasn't worth it because one can't be sure that one's vote was being properly counted.
It makes one wonder if it is all worth the trouble and might make some decide that it's not. And even if one decides that it is worth the time and money, it still might all be in vain because of the obstacles that Walker and the other Republicans have put in the way.
There are a lot of voters who voices will be silenced because of these new laws.
But then again, that is the real reason that Walker and the other Republicans wanted this voter suppression law in the first place, isn't it?