In a late-night session Thursday, Republicans in the state Assembly approved measures to reinstate Wisconsin’s voter ID law, tighten early voting hours, limit the ability to recall elected officials and restrict access to the site of a proposed iron mine in the North Woods. They also took a first step toward amending the state constitution to require members of the state Supreme Court to choose the chief justice, rather than having that post automatically go to the most senior justice. Legislators from the two parties had been working together to move through a jam-packed agenda by midnight, but bitter disputes developed late Thursday that threatened to send the session into the early morning hours. Tensions flared after Democrats attempted to take up a bill honoring the children killed last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Republicans rejected taking that up and then advanced a bill creating an anti-abortion license plate.
The Assembly session was supposed to be the last one of 2013, but lawmakers now are expected to be back on the floor in the coming weeks because Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday he would call a special session to delay moving 77,500 people from BadgerCare Plus health coverage to private insurance.
Legislators approved a bill, 54-38, that would allow voters to cast a ballot without a photo ID if they signed sworn statements saying they were poor and could not obtain a photo ID without paying a fee, had a religious objection to being photographed or could not obtain birth certificates or other documentation necessary to get a photo ID. All Republicans voted in favor of the bill and all Democrats against it.
The changes are intended to overcome legal challenges to the state’s stalled law requiring proof of identity at the polls. Democrats argued putting the ID requirement in place would make it tougher for minorities, the elderly and poor people to vote and unfairly create two classes of voters — those who show IDs, and those who file affidavits.
“This bill says that poor people need to declare their indigency. It’s a scarlet letter,” said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee).
Full Article: Assembly approves changes to voting hours, ID law.