Could Wisconsin soon be the center of another political controversy? A test run of the state’s new voter identification law on Oct. 11 led to long lines and frustrated voters, which could cause state Democrats to amplify their attacks on a law they already claim is costly and intended only to suppress voter turnout. State Republicans have expressed strong support for the law since its passage in May, and have expressed no desire to make any changes before it takes full effect before February’s primary elections.
Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl called for the mock election after noticing irregularities during July’s State Senate recall elections. Poll workers in those elections were instructed to request voters’ identification even though it was not yet required. Witzel-Behl indicated that the workers were inconsistently following this instruction. Following Tuesday’s mock election, Witzel-Behl estimated that it took each voter two minutes to present identification and sign the poll book, a standard she found “very alarming.” She also noted that several people left the line due to the long wait.
Still, Witzel-Behl indicated that poll workers were able to reduce the time it took to process voters as the election progressed but said, “I think it’s pretty clear we will have to do more hands-on training to prepare for the elections.”
Republican Go. Scott Walker signed the controversial bill in May, with the vote breaking down mainly along party lines. Voters in the Badger State will be required as of 2012 to show valid state-issued photo identification before voting. The state did preserve its same-day registration, in place since 1976, though at least one legislator has recently called for its end.