Some poor people would be allowed to vote without a photo ID under a bill debated Wednesday that is aimed at overcoming a judge’s order blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Republicans who control the Legislature hope the bill will blunt other legal challenges to the voter ID law, as well. A public hearing on it was held before the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections on Wednesday as a federal trial on the voter ID law entered its third day in Milwaukee. Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) testified he believes the existing voter ID law will eventually be found constitutional, but said he was sponsoring changes to the law in hopes of putting the voter ID requirement in place more quickly. “With the delays that are already taking place, it could be years and years before courts reach an ultimate decision, leaving our elections in doubt,” Schraa testified.
Democrats have railed against requiring people to show photo ID at the polls as a means of suppressing the votes of the elderly and minorities. They said Wednesday they opposed the bill by Schraa and Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) because ballots cast by people without an ID would be subject to more scrutiny than other ballots.
They also said people who voted without an ID could be embarrassed by being labeled poor and could face investigations for false swearing if someone accused them of signing affidavits if they weren’t qualified to vote without an ID. “It will intimidate (poor people) and then make them even less likely to go to the polls on election day,” said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee).
The bill would allow people to vote without a photo ID if they signed affidavits stating they were poor and could not obtain an ID without paying a fee; they had a religious objection to being photographed; or they could not obtain the documentation needed to get an ID.