Lizzie Kunze
Op-Ed

Still Time to Get Voter ID

You can still vote tomorrow, here are details of how to get ID.

By - Nov 7th, 2016 10:48 am
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A sign at Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison lets students know they will need additional identification to vote in Wisconsin beyond their regular college ID. University of Wisconsin System campuses are offering free specialized voter ID cards, but students will need to also bring proof of enrollment to the polls. Photo by Coburn Dukehart of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

A sign at Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison lets students know they will need additional identification to vote in Wisconsin beyond their regular college ID. University of Wisconsin System campuses are offering free specialized voter ID cards, but students will need to also bring proof of enrollment to the polls. Photo by Coburn Dukehart of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

There is still time to get an ID to vote in Tuesday’s General Election. Voter education organizations like VoteRiders are stressing this point as they race to educate as many eligible voters about the voter ID law and petition process before November 8th. Molly McGrath, VoteRiders’ National Campaign Coordinator, says that VoteRiders’ helplines in Wisconsin are receiving calls from people who do not understand the law or what documentation they need in order to get an ID to vote. This stalls them from heading to the DMV in advance of November 8th. The vast majority of Wisconsin voters already have the ID they need — a Wisconsin Driver’s License or Wisconsin State ID card. For those who don’t, there is still time and help available.

Voter ID hotlines are a critical resource this election season because of initial and persisting confusion among eligible voters about Wisconsin’s voter ID law. An October 12th hearing addressed DMV officials misinforming Wisconsinites about the voter ID petition process. The hearing was prompted by a September 22nd audio recording between a voter, Zack Moore, and a DMV employee. Instead of explaining the voter ID petition process, Zack was told by the DMV that he needed his birth certificate before being issued an ID — a document not required through the voter ID petition process. Zack Moore is one of the many eligible voters in Wisconsin who are deterred from voting because misinformation about Wisconsin’s voter ID law makes it difficult to collect necessary documents, travel to the DMV and eventually get an ID.

Had this VoteRiders audio recording not been submitted, the Wisconsin Elections Commission and Department of Transportation may not have addressed failures in voter education about the voter ID law. Simply having a voter petition process that allows voters to get an ID without regular documentation is not enough if voters are uninformed about the process. The State of Wisconsin must prioritize educating voters about how to comply with voter ID laws far in advance of all future elections. Otherwise, some voters without IDs will be deterred from heading to the DMV, getting a free voter ID and exercising their constitutional right to vote on Election Day.

Proponents of voter ID laws say that voter ID maintains the integrity of our elections by preventing voter fraud, but voter fraud is rare in American elections. In fact, fewer people commit in-person voter fraud in the United States than those who are struck by lightning each year. Making it difficult to get an ID and vote poses a greater risk to our democracy than the threat of voter fraud because democracies are weakened when it’s difficult for citizens to cast their ballot.

In Wisconsin, people should be able to spend more time thinking about who to vote for instead of how they can get an ID to vote. For voters seeking advice about how to get an ID, call the VoteRiders helpline at 414-882-8622 or 608-729-7720 or visit www.voteriders.org because there is still time to get an ID to vote in advance of Tuesday’s election.

Lizzie Kunze is the Program Coordinator of The Progressive Media Project.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

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