At least 590 people in Wisconsin cast provisional ballots in last week’s election because they didn’t present a valid photo ID, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said Monday. So far municipal clerks have reported issuing 717 provisional ballots in last week’s presidential election, the biggest election so far that the photo ID requirement was in place. Most went to people who didn’t have a valid ID at the polling place. It’s the first indication of how many people showed up at the polls and couldn’t meet the state’s hotly disputed photo ID requirement. The number could increase as more clerks report their provisional ballot numbers to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. In 2012, when the photo ID requirement was on hold by court order, there were 132 provisional ballots cast — largely because a voter lacked the correct proof of residency. In the April presidential primary, when the photo ID was in effect, there were 434 provisional ballots cast, of which 343 were for people without a valid ID.
UW-Madison political science professor Ken Mayer, who is studying the effect of Wisconsin’s voter ID law on election participation, called the number of provisional ballots cast evidence of “hard disenfranchisement” and “many times greater than the number of fraudulent ballots cast through voter impersonation.”
“These are people who will be unable to vote because of the voter ID requirement,” Mayer said. “We can argue about whether that number is big or large, but what that number should be is zero.”