Wisconsin’s voter ID law will present new hurdles to some students and cost UW-Madison as much as $700,000 if the university provides all students new identification cards to comply with the law. It’s not clear how many students would use university IDs to vote, and school officials are waiting further clarification from the state Government Accountability Board about what kind of university ID would be acceptable at the polls.
All Wisconsin voters must present a valid photo ID in order to vote starting with the Feb. 21 spring primary, including a Wisconsin driver’s license, U.S. passport, military ID or tribal ID. College students without those forms of identification can use a university ID that includes a date of issuance, the student’s signature and an expiration date within two years of issuance. They must also present additional proof of enrollment.
Currently, UW student IDs do not comply with the voter ID law because they have five-year expiration dates and do not include signatures. “Students are extremely confused,” said Hannah Somers, an out-of-state UW-Madison student and legislative affairs chairwoman for Associated Students of Madison, UW’s student government. “I’ve heard students say ‘I’m just going to vote absentee at home because that’s going to be easier.'”
UW-Madison and other state campuses are considering what to do.
Issuing all students new, compliant ID cards every two years would cost UW-Madison about $700,000, according to Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration.
The university is exploring other options such as providing new IDs only to students who request them. Another option would be to provide secondary IDs for voting, which would be cheaper because the cards wouldn’t also have to work for banking and library transactions, Bazzell said.