Gov. Scott Walker’s administration wants to stamp “voting purposes only” on the free IDs the state makes available, making it harder for people to use them to open bank accounts or prove their identity when they pick up their children from day care. The Division of Motor Vehicles also wants the free IDs – born of voter fraud fears – to be cheapened in quality, with some fraud protections removed. State officials believe the changes would prompt more people to pay for IDs that can be used more widely, thus increasing transportation funding by nearly $1 million over two years. “I don’t think the elderly and low-income people who don’t drive should be the state’s target for boosting revenue for transportation spending,” said Jon Peacock, research director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
Some of what is reported by the Guardian U.S. in its story on leaked John Doe documents had been previously disclosed, but there was also a good bit of new stuff. Most notably, the story broke the news that Harold Simmons, owner of NL Industries, a producer of the lead formerly used in paint, made three donations totaling $750,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth in 2011 and 2012. Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers then pushed through a measure intended to retroactively shield lead paint makers from liability. But that wasn’t all. Here are six other things that we found in the 1,352 pages of leaked records: Republican insiders discussed ginning up concerns over voter fraud in the days after then-Supreme Court Justice David Prosser narrowly defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg in April 2011.
Wisconsin: In newly released emails, critics see proof of political motive for GOP voter fraud claims | Wisconsin State Journal
Hours after polls closed in the closely contested 2011 state Supreme Court election, Republican consultants and lobbyists traded emails about launching a potential public campaign to allege “widespread” voter fraud, newly released emails show. Critics say the emails are another sign of political motives behind Republican claims that voter fraud is a serious problem in Wisconsin. The emails became public Wednesday through a report by Guardian US, an arm of the British newspaper, which included leaked court documents from the secret John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign. They were dated to the early morning hours of April 6, 2011. At that time, the incumbent and GOP favorite in the Supreme Court race, then-Justice David Prosser, clung to a razor-thin election lead over the candidate favored by Democrats, Judge Joanne Kloppenburg.
A federal judge on Monday gave the state 10 days to spell out what it is doing to inform people how they can vote if they have great difficulty getting IDs. The ruling by Judge James Peterson in Madison gives state officials until Sept. 22 to explain their plans to help voters in the Nov. 8 election. Peterson in July struck down limits on early voting and other election laws and ordered the state to make changes to the voter ID law for those who have the most trouble getting IDs.
Wisconsin: College students face unique, growing challenges getting to ballot box | The Capital Times
There are many barriers that keep college students away from the polls. They include registration and voting requirements that vary from state to state, difficulty with obtaining the proper ID or proving residency, lack of familiarity with local issues and local candidates and uncertainty about how or where to vote — at home or at school. Some laws passed over the previous four years, including in Wisconsin, have created even more barriers. In August, a federal judge in Madison threw out some additional requirements for college students in Wisconsin, including a provision that had barred students from using expired but otherwise qualifying campus IDs for voting.
Wisconsin election officials raised concerns Tuesday that some voters won’t be able to get IDs in time to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election — potentially violating a court order. In response, a Division of Motor Vehicles official said the state would use overnight mail to get people voting credentials in some cases to make sure they can more easily vote. Courts have kept Wisconsin’s voter ID law in place, but have ruled state officials must promptly provide free voting credentials to people who don’t have IDs, even if they lack birth certificates or other identity documents. Three members of the state Elections Commission said they were worried people who wait to obtain IDs until close to the election won’t be able to get them in time to have their votes counted.
A federal appeals court on Friday offered what some described as a compromise over Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law. But a closer look suggests the new rules will still keep eligible voters from the polls, maintaining a barrier to voting in a crucial presidential swing state this fall. To voting rights advocates, the arrangement underscores more starkly than ever how voter ID laws are designed not to ensure the integrity of the election, as their backers claim, but to make voting harder for certain groups. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit last week overturned a lower court’s ruling that had required Wisconsin to let people without acceptable ID cast a ballot if they signed an affidavit attesting to their identity. The appeals court said the affidavit option wasn’t necessary, because Wisconsin recently promised to make it very easy to get an ID at the DMV. Specifically, in a set of emergency rules issued in May amid litigation over the ID law, the state said it would mail a free temporary ID to anyone who comes to a DMV office to request one, showing whatever documentation they have. (Previously, many voters were required to show a birth certificate or other underlying documentation to get a voter ID). As long as the state keeps to that pledge and publicizes the new rule, there’s no need to soften the law, the appeals court unanimously concluded.
A federal appeals court on Friday seemed to reach a limited compromise in the controversy over Wisconsin’s voter identification law, which has been in the crosshairs of multiple lawsuits and appeals for years. With one judge recused, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit consolidated the disputes and issued an order that kept the law on the books, but appeared to give voting rights advocates a small consolation prize ahead of the November election. The court explicitly rejected a softening device ― like one ordered by a federal judge this month in Texas ― that would allow voters lacking the required voter ID card to simply sign an affidavit attesting to their identity before they cast a ballot. Instead, the court accepted assurances from the state of Wisconsin that its Division of Motor Vehicles would “mail automatically a free photo ID to anyone who comes to DMV one time and initiates the free ID process.”
A federal appeals court on Friday declined to soften Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law. The court’s decision likely means that, barring intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, the strict ID measure will be in place in a key presidential swing state, where it could make voting much harder, especially for racial minorities and students. In July, a district court ruled that Wisconsin must soften its law by allowing voters who were unable to get ID to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit blocked that ruling from going into effect for the November election. On Friday afternoon, the full appeals court unanimously upheld the panel’s decision, after an appeal from voting rights groups. The appeals court noted that in a separate challenge to the voter ID law, a court had required Wisconsin to make IDs as easy as possible to obtain, including by giving out temporary IDs at DMV offices. As a result, the appeals court found, the affidavit option is unnecessary to ensure that voters aren’t disenfranchised.
Wisconsin: Good government group slams vote to allow ethics commission to make political donations | Capital Times
A good government group is decrying the decision made Tuesday by members of Wisconsin’s new ethics commission to opt not to ban themselves from donating to political campaigns. “Just how stupid do they think Wisconsinites are?” asked Common Cause in Wisconsin director Jay Heck, who blasted the members of the commission who voted against considering a proposal to ban themselves from making political contributions. Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board was replaced this summer with two separate commissions charged with overseeing elections, ethics, lobbying and campaign finance rules in the state. Commissioners on each board are partisan appointees, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.