Solve Real Problems
Why is Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald still defending the state’s voter ID law?
You might wonder why Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald recently wrote a column defending the state’s voter photo ID law. Why did he feel compelled to rehash old arguments, now that the law is in effect and groups like the League of Women Voters are working overtime to help people comply with it? The recently leaked emails from the John Doe investigation may offer a clue, especially those messages from partisan insiders revealing an intentional strategy to discredit elections by ramping up the phantom of voter fraud.
In his column Sen. Fitzgerald repeated old claims of illegal voting, most of which were debunked years ago and none of which could have been prevented by photo ID. Contrast that with an extensive, well documented study conducted by an election expert at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles which found only 31 credible (though not proven) incidents that could possibly be voter impersonation out of more than one billion votes cast nationally in the period 2000-2014.
There is equally reliable evidence from the federal Government Accountability Office and private researchers that voter photo ID laws reduce minority turnout in elections by a significant amount. By reducing turnout among some groups of voters, a photo ID law unfairly magnifies the influence of others.
Last week the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, suffering from reduced revenues from gas taxes, proposed to print IDs stamped “voting purposes only” on cheaper stock as a way to make the free IDs for voting less appealing to people. As part of their rationale for passing the law, proponents of voter ID have long touted the benefits of owning an ID for multiple purposes. Besides being less secure, the proposed voting-only IDs would not achieve that lofty purpose. The DOT should not try to close its funding gap on the backs of people who do not drive and only want to exercise their right to vote. This shows the illogic of tasking the state’s transportation department with the need to provide free IDs to allow citizens to vote.
I don’t know what Wisconsin voters did to deserve this solution in search of problem, but the voter ID law does more harm than good. It is not working for the eligible citizens who are finding it difficult if not impossible to vote under the new requirements. It is not working for the DOT, and it is not working for the taxpayers who foot the bill to implement the law.
Senator, if we must have voter ID, amend the law to make it more fair. Allow more types of ID to qualify for voting, and give citizens who do not have an ID the option to sign an affidavit. That would achieve your stated goal of preventing voter impersonation without excluding large groups of citizens and wasting tax money. Do this as soon as possible, and then move on to solving some real problems.