Patti Wenzel
Voter ID passes in Wisconsin

Here’s what’s in the bill

By - May 19th, 2011 04:00 am

Photo Credit: Beaumont Enterprise

The Wisconsin State Senate has passed AB-7, the Voter ID bill, and Gov. Scott Walker will sign the legislation next Wednesday. It’s a highly contentious piece of legislation that’s been on and off the table for years – backed almost solely by Republicans. The bill will not only require voters to provide photo identification at the polls, it will change how we all vote across Wisconsin.

Supporters say the legislation is needed to reduce voter fraud. However, a December 2011 Politifact review of fraud claims found the allegation to be false.

Opponents claim the bill will actually disenfranchise thousands of potential voters with its onerous identification provisions, reduction in voting opportunities and confusing requirements.

From now on

The legislation will allow the following IDs for voting: Wisconsin driver’s licenses; state-issued ID cards; military IDs; passports; naturalization certificates; IDs issued by Wisconsin-based tribes; and certain student IDs. The photo ID provisions would go into effect during the 2012 spring elections.

Student IDs need to be issued from accredited public and private colleges and universities in Wisconsin, include the student’s signature and have a two-year expiration date. Students would have to establish they are currently enrolled in the school if using a student ID. A provision to require addresses on student IDs was removed from the bill by the Assembly.

UW-System IDs do not currently meet the legislation’s requirements,  and the changeover could cost the system $1.1 million.

And in the future it will take more documents to get a driver’s license and state-issued ID card. In accordance with the Real ID Act of 2005, citizens will have to provide a birth certificate to the Department of Motor Vehicles before obtaining a federal, tamper-proof driver’s license or ID.

That law, authored by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) was in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The bill creates secure IDs that can be used for boarding airplanes or entering federal courthouses. The new restrictions, when put into effect, will extend the time of obtaining an ID card at the DMV from a few hours to 7-10 days. The DMV will provide applicants with a receipt that can be used for driving and voting.

Citizens who do not wish to comply with the federal law can obtain a non-secure license, but could not use it as identification to board planes or enter federal courthouses.

Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) said tying the ID requirement to the Real ID Act will be costly to elderly and poor. “People who have come here from Arkansas and Mississippi may not have a birth certificate, especially if they’re elderly. To get one from those states could take extra time and money.”

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) said the requirement directing the DMV to issue the IDs hurts people of all economic and racial stripes. Not all counties have DMV service centers: Buffalo County has none, Pierce County’s is only open during typical working hours on Thursdays and Fridays and Price County only has hours on the first Wednesday of every other month and 2nd and 5th Thursdays monthly.

People living in nursing homes or hospice would be exempt from the law, as would victims of stalking or those with religious objections to photographs.

Voters who arrive at the polls without a photo ID will be allowed to vote; however their ballots will be considered provisional and could be tossed unless an ID is presented to the municipal clerk by the Friday following the election.

What else?

Residency requirements within the bill are expected to be implemented in time for the upcoming summer recall elections of six Republican and three Democratic senators. AB 7 includes a provision that extends the minimum legal residency requirement to 28 days prior to a state election. The current 10-day residency rule would remain in place for presidential elections.

Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) says the extended residency requirement will be difficult for college students, who frequently move throughout the school year. He offered amendments to reverse the lengthening of the residency rule, which all were tabled on straight party-line votes.

Absentee ballots can currently be cast in person before the municipal clerk 30 days prior to an election. The new legislation will reduce the time frame to only two weeks for absentees, and would set the deadline for absentee ballots to the Friday before the election.

AB7 would also require voters to sign a poll book before they can obtain a ballot, which Sen. Lena Taylor said was just another way of disenfranchising voters. The bill would also eliminate party-line voting for all residents, with the exception of military personnel and overseas voters.

The bill will cost the state more than $6 million over the next biennium, due to the loss of revenue of providing free state IDs to avoid the appearance that the bill is an unconstitutional poll tax.

Tension in the Senate

The Democratic Senators began a one-sided debate just before 3 p.m on Tuesday and offered 28 different amendments to restore certain provisions in the bill, including using a third-person to vouch for a voter’s identity, return of the 10-day residency requirement, keeping straight party voting and allowing the use of any college ID, unexpired ID card or hunting and fishing licenses for voting.

Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) said AB7 has nothing to do with voter ID, but with voter suppression.

“It puts obstacles in the way of what has been a very open system,” Miller said.

Voter ID requirements nationwide. Graphic courtesy The Pew Center on the States.

“We have seen in the past the poll tax,” Miller said. “We have seen the literacy tests, which have been declared unconstitutional. We have seen in the past districts that have been gerrymandered to reduce the representation of minorities.  So Mr. President (Senate President Mike Ellis), this bill has numerous provisions and restrictions on people trying to exercise their voting rights.”

“I think it would be hard for any of us to justify to the voters a bill that stands in the way of citizens by making it harder to vote.”

Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) expressed concerns over the restrictions on the elderly, and lent his support to an amendment that would exempt all voters 65 and older from the voter ID requirements, regardless of where they live.

“I don’t think this group is likely to commit voter fraud,” he said. “I would be interested to see evidence of voter fraud at elderly centers and nursing homes. At least not in Milwaukee County, maybe Waukesha County.”

But Sen. Robert Jauch  (D-Poplar) went right to the heart of the matter, saying  this bill is only being passed to ensure the re-election of Republican politicians, equating the GOP to Soviets putting their boots on the neck of freedom.

“Jim Crow, move over, Wisconsin Republicans have taken your place” Jauch said. “I’m not saying you’re racists. Intolerant, unsympathetic, restrictive; those are a few words. This bill perpetuates injustice and deprives people of their rights.”

Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) said the bill allows for the majority of citizens to regain confidence in the election process which has been tainted by administrative errors and fraudulent voting practices.

“We bring forward a package of reasonable updates and changes that will strengthen the voting process in our state,” Leibham said. “The mainstay of this is a reasonable requirement that an individual who is voting under an identity to prove it with a photo ID. The vast majority of the citizens of Wisconsin have one of the seven IDs we are requiring. I have yet to meet a person who will be disenfranchised by this bill.”

He added that as of May 2011, there are 3.5 million registered voters in the state and as of Jan. 1, there are 4.4 million driver’s licenses or ID cards that have been issued by the DOT.

Assembly voices

The Assembly passed the Bill AB7 on May 11 on a 60-35 vote. All of the Republicans voted in favor and were joined by Rep. Peggy Krusick of Southwestern Milwaukee and Rep. Tony Staskunas of West Allis.

After the vote, people in the Assembly gallery and members of the Democratic Caucus shouted “Shame!” and “Welcome to Wisconsin, Jim Crow!”

Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison) said this measure is a Republican power grab.

“Republicans know that their days of complete control over Wisconsin’s government are numbered, so they are rushing frantically to game the system to keep power,” Roys said. “They know that according to a 2005 study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, about 180,000 Wisconsinites (23 percent) aged 65 and older do not have a state-issued ID, and about half of African-Americans and Latinos/Latinas lack a valid driver’s license – compared with 17 percent of white Wisconsinites. These tactics only serve to further divide our state in ways that may be irreparable.”

But Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) was pleased that Wisconsin will be joining the ranks of other states that require photo ID at the polls. Currently, nine states require or request photo ID at the polls and 19 others require some form of identification when citizens vote.

“I am pleased to see Wisconsin joins so many others across the country in protecting and ensuring the integrity of our election process,” he said. “Free and fair elections are the staple of our democracy and they should be defended at all costs.”

0 thoughts on “Voter ID passes in Wisconsin: Here’s what’s in the bill”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow. This article is pure garbage. I don’t care about other states issues with providing birth certificates, the relevancy of that small “disenfranchised” population is neglible. Besides, they may be part of the hospice/nursing home group that doesn’t need to provide such ID anyways.

    At some point we have to draw a line and make sure people are actually eligible to vote. Any argument against that is treasonous at best.

    And stop using Jim Crow, everyone has the same right, responsibility and privilege to get the valid ID, vote and be counted.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Chris, your statement “the relevancy of that small ‘disenfranchised’ population is neglible” is treasonous! Every taxpaying citizen deserves to have their vote recorded! A government without representation for its citizens is illegitimate, don’t you remember what our Founding Fathers fought for?

  3. Anonymous says:

    We need to stop using the inaccurate right wing terminology for this. It is not “voter ID”, it is VOTER SUPPRESSION.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What the article DOESN’T address: if the name on your driver’s license isn’t EXACTLY the same as the name under which you registered to vote, your voting rights are OVER if a poll watcher challenges you on election day. Did you use a middle initial in one place and spell it out on the other – or omit it altogether? Use a diminutive (“Sue” instead of “Susan,” “Gene” instead of “Eugene,” etc.) when you registered? Leave out “Jr.” somewhere? Do you normally go by your middle name? Is it shown that way on your license AND voter registration? No? Tough. They’ll stop you from voting, and there won’t be a damn thing you can do about it. Expect a flood of voter denials by GOP operatives in 2012 – but now it’s easier for any party to prevent your voting in the future! This won’t just affect the “negligible” people whose rights Chris finds it so easy to dismiss; this will affect voters across the spectrum.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think you may not really get the impact. It is unconstitutional to disenfranchise people; Many who are older don’t have birth certificates. Should we tell them that after 50 years of voting
    no one thinks they exist. The jury systems calls voters from voting lists and those involved in political action use registered voter lists. So people who have been registered for many years are going to have to prove this are still themselves. And all of this costs 6million dollars. And-Wisconsin has no record of voter fraud

  6. Anonymous says:

    Chris seems to forget, or conveniently fails to mention that identification is already required for voter Registration. I agree that calling it Jim Crow may be a stretch but “Voter Suppression” is right on the mark.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Margaret, you are so wrong I don’t know where to start. The bill was based off a law already challenged to the supreme court for the reasons you spoke of (in Indiana if I remember), and was withheld intact. The current legistators did this for a reason! The cost might be the only thing that was true in your statement. As for no record of voter fraud in wisconins, that is laughable.. do some research next time. This is polling at 70-80% bill(support) the cho cho Doyle bought in Spain was 9 times the cost with much less then 50%support.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yeah I know that Harsdorf got caught casting an illegal ballot. Also there is another republican staffer under investigation now for voter fraud, so it does exist.

    But when a person breaks the law we catch them. We do not punish all other lawful citizens because someone else breaks the law.

    That would be as stupid as taking away guns from lawful owners because someone held up the liquor store. But leave it up to republicans to come up with stupid ideas and they deliver.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “Voter suppression” is vote fraud, until you know someone who has gone to the polls to vote and they were not allowed because their vote has “already” been cast even though they have a picture id, etc. then you would understand voter suppression and its existence. (highly doubt you were talking about the examples of black panthers outside voting stations with weapons on video from the 2008 election) This anomaly if you want to call it that does occur and rather then playing games like Kloppenburg, real reform is needed and extra layers are necessary to try and ensure disenfranchment does not occur.
    The interesting thing about the topic is there has yet to be the typical parading of examples (of citizens) who this would effect. Other topics John Smith is brought out and his story told to everyone as an example of why this or that is bad, why hasn’t this happened on this issue… is it because it is more convenient to use hypotheticals rather then real life impact? The reason is because it is very difficult if not impossible to come up with said examples because they do not exist at least not in the capacity that is suggested.
    Smokes for votes, will not be able to be done as easily, you would need to match a picture ID to someone who has a name on the rolls. Dead alive, moved to another state, the rolls do not address or update, and that is a problem. The next step that should occur is automatic removal of individuals off the voter rolls if have not voted in respectable period of time.
    It may seem convenient to use hyperbole and theatrics in politics, but this gamble of behaving like this is one that I believe will shock many liberals, especially after the recall elections, and next US Senate votes are cast. How democrats have behaved over the last year, will be put to the test, and so will the behavior of republicans. Just saying don’t be surprised when the public sides with the current administration.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “I have yet to meet a person who will be disenfranchised by this bill.” yeah, no big shocker there!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Vote fraud does exist. In Waukesha County! We all know who the cheaters are! Even if it was not enough to change the out come, there is ample evidence to suggest serious vote fraud by Republicans in Waukesha County. Republicans cheat! That is how it is. They will do whatever they can get away with in order to gain or maintain control so they can implement their freedom robbing schemes. The Republican party is a most unpatriotic, non-Christian, entity. They support greed! Me, me, me. Fascism in the guise of freedom! Compassion, empathy, those are for the weak! True freedoms are for the Godless!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Robert, Too bad there is no evidence of this, in fact everything you said is untrue. The Huffington post had to admit no fraud in the Brookfield numbers… why you might ask, well because their own reporters documented the night of the election the EXACT same numbers that we forgotten to be included in the AP totals> Remember that you are all hyped about the UNOFFICIAL TOTALS FROM THE AP. It is over, deal with it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do you keep up with how juries are polled? In the 1990’s, when Clinton was pushing for Motor Voter, every state had to remove jury duty from the voter rolls and put on the DMV. You turn 18 and you are eligible for Jury Duty even if you are not registered to vote.

    As for no vote fraud, that is flat wrong.

    This is from the Milwaukee PD:

    This one is from the American Center for Voting Rights in July, 2005…

  14. Anonymous says:

    […] student IDs. The photo ID provisions would go into effect during the 2012 spring elections.’-source [I would've referred to G.A.B.'s site, but it is under maintenance at time of writing] bluecheddarI […]

  15. Anonymous says:

    […] like Wisconsin, the home of the progressive movement, was moving in the wrong direction. The new Voter ID bill was going to make it unnecessarily hard to vote. The state government de-funded legal aid for the […]

  16. Anonymous says:

    […] similar bill (Voter ID Bill (AB-7) requiring Wisconsin voters to show photo ID in order to vote passed Wisconsin state Senate in […]

  17. Anonymous says:

    […] similar bill (Voter ID Bill (AB-7) requiring Wisconsin voters to show photo ID in order to vote passed Wisconsin state Senate in […]

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