The line stretching out the meeting room door and down the hall was the first visible sign that implementing the state’s new voter ID law may not be so easy — for voters or poll workers. For three hours Tuesday, the city of Madison conducted a small mock election inside the City-County Building. It was designed to help officials work out the kinks in a process that by February will require voters have photo IDs or fill out detailed provisional ballots.
The new rules, signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in May, were meant to address concerns about possible voter fraud. But as the mock election Tuesday proved, sometimes “secure” equals “slower.”
“This will take people longer to do, there is no getting around that,” said Dane County Clerk Karen Peters, who attended Tuesday’s vote as an observer. “Voters will just have to be patient, because there is a lot that goes into this.”
With passage of the law, Wisconsin joined Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and South Carolina as states with voter ID requirements. Four other states request photo IDs but allow voters to cast regular ballots without one. The Wisconsin measure, which could cost the state as much as $7.5 million, has long divided Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans feel it is a matter of election integrity. To Democrats, it’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, and one they fear will disenfranchise people without IDs.
But to election officials tasked with enforcing the new law, the more important issues deal with public education and poll worker training.