The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow Wisconsin residents to register to vote online, putting the state on track to join 30 other states that offer online registration. Though Democrats support online registration, they voted against the measure Tuesday due to provisions eliminating special registration deputies who help voters register in person. Democrats argued the elimination of deputies would hamper voter drives and could disenfranchise students, seniors and low-income voters. “This is sort of a bait-and-switch bill,” said Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison. “In effect, it doesn’t help with registration — it hurts the whole concept. It reduces opportunities to vote.”
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin voters would be able to register online under a bill approved Wednesday by the Senate’s elections committee. The proposal originally had bipartisan support, but several Democrats withdrew their names from the bill when they learned it would eliminate special registration deputies, who help voters register in person. Under the bill, the online registration system would be implemented by the 2017 spring primary. It would allow any eligible voter with a current and valid state-issued drivers license or ID card to register online. Online registration would have to be completed 20 days before the election in order to be valid. People who are currently registered to vote would be able to change their address using the same system.
The state would implement online registration for voters by the spring of 2017 and forbid Milwaukee officials from moving forward with a plan to provide local IDs, under bills approved by a Senate committee Wednesday. Republicans on the Senate Elections Committee approved the registration proposal, SB295, on a party-line 3-2 vote. As rewritten by a late-breaking amendment, the bill would in turn make a number of changes to state elections law. By another 3-2 vote, the panel also approved a separate proposal, SB533, that would prohibit county and town governments from issuing — or spending money on — photo identification cards. That legislation would also make it even more clear that photo ID cards issued by cities or villages could not be used for things like voting or obtaining public benefits, such as food stamps.
Wisconsin: State’s low-key educational effort on new voter ID requirement irks critics | Wisconsin State Journal
The state’s low-profile effort to educate voters about Wisconsin’s new voter ID requirement has critics fearing some voters will be caught off-guard when they head to the polls. The voter ID requirement takes effect this year, starting with the spring primary election on Feb. 16 and followed by the spring election and presidential primary on April 5. The voter ID law was enacted in 2011 and briefly took effect for the 2012 spring primary election until court challenges halted its implementation. Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement is among the most restrictive of any state. Voters must come to the polls with one of a list of approved photo IDs that include their signature, such as a Wisconsin driver’s license, U.S. passport or U.S. military ID. Some student and tribal IDs qualify if they’re not expired. Student IDs also must be accompanied by a separate document that proves enrollment, such as a tuition statement.
Wisconsin: Clerks fear loss of support after Government Accountability Board dissolves | Kenosha News
As Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board enters its last election cycle, some local clerks are hoping that at least some of the agency’s functions remain in place. Republican legislators led the effort to eliminate the board, replacing it with two new agencies: an elections commission and an ethics commission. The GAB will dissolve on July 1, the two new agencies taking over the board’s duties. While the legislative focus of the change was on campaign finance laws, some local clerks are worried about whether the training, election support and legal advice for clerks now handled by the GAB will remain in place.
Wisconsin: IDs from Wisconsin towns, counties could not be used for voting under Republican bill | Cap Times
Towns and counties wouldn’t be allowed to issue photo ID cards to their residents under a bill discussed by a Senate committee on Tuesday. Any IDs previously issued by towns or counties could not be used to vote, register to vote or obtain public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid, under the bill. Towns and counties would still be able to issue employee ID cards, cards for vendors or contractors and cards required to use services and facilities like transit systems or golf courses. Cities and villages could still issue photo IDs, but those IDs also could not be used for proof of residence or to receive public assistance. IDs issued by a city or village would be required to state clearly, “Not authorized for voting purposes.”
Several local governments in Wisconsin are interested in issuing local identification cards to residents. One is Milwaukee County. But some state lawmakers believe the locals are overstepping their authority – so legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit municipalities from issuing local ID cards. More than 50 people showed up to testify at a public hearing in Madison on Tuesday; most oppose the ban. Guadalupe Gallardo has a lot to say about any legislation she feels would restrict immigrants. She’s originally from Mexico but has lived in the U.S. for decades. “We’re going to raise our voice you know to fight for immigrants. They want to be free, they want to work. They are afraid. They’re afraid to go out, they’re afraid to go to doctors or schools because the police are going to stop them,” Gallardo says.
A nonpartisan attorney for the Legislature and one of the state’s foremost experts on campaign finance law are disputing a contention by the state’s elections agency that political parties don’t have to publicly disclose contributions they receive from corporations. It is the latest incident in which conclusions of the state Government Accountability Board have been disputed. Frustrated with the agency, Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature have approved dissolving the agency this year and replacing it with two new commissions. “This is just another clear example of why the Government Accountability Board needs to be replaced,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Friday.
Wisconsin: Outgoing State Elections Director Outlines Next Steps in Transition to New Agencies | WUWM
Two new groups will begin administering Wisconsin’s elections and ethics laws this new year. Gov. Walker recently signed a bill that will dismantle the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board and replace it with two panels of partisan appointees, an elections commission and an ethics panel, by June 30, 2016. Republican leaders insist the Board was not responsive to their concerns. Outgoing GAB Director Kevin Kennedy says he will assist in the transition “The legislation specifically requires that I facilitate the transition to work with the secretary of administration and to be on call to the legislative oversight committees to provide reports on that process,” he says.
A pair of Republican lawmakers are circulating a proposal that would prohibit county and town governments from issuing — or spending money on — photo identification cards. The legislation would also bar photo ID cards issued by cities or villages from being used for things like voting or obtaining public benefits, such as food stamps. Critics say the legislation is an attack on local control and is targeting a plan recently approved by city and county officials in Milwaukee to issue local identification cards to the homeless, immigrants in the country illegally and other residents unable to obtain state driver’s licenses or other government-issued ID cards. They also say the bill is an example of anti-immigrant discrimination. The measure’s sponsors, state Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), say they’re trying to fight fraud and prevent confusion.