Wisconsin’s on-again, off-again voter ID law has been put on hold for the fall election, leaving local election officials to make adjustments less than a month before voters go to the polls. Election workers were being trained for the ID requirement, forms were being changed and plans were in place tell voters to bring an ID following a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in September that validated the law. But another order, this time by the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 9, blocked the voter ID law from being implemented for the Nov. 4 election. “It’s a roller coaster, I’ll say that,” said St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell. Plans were in place in the city of River Falls to send letters to residents telling them to bring an ID to the polls, but “luckily (they) didn’t go out before the reversal,” said City Clerk Lu Ann Hecht. Her office also had made signs informing people about the law, as had the clerk’s office in Polk County. “I printed them the day before the (Supreme Court) ruling came down,” said Polk County Clerk Carole Wondra. “So, I’m just sitting on them now.” Local clerks are now working to get out the opposite message: IDs won’t be required at the polls.
In Hudson, where City Clerk Nancy Korson said the recent Supreme Court order hasn’t caused any turmoil, letters will be sent to residents with their utility bills telling them they don’t need an ID to vote. “I do anticipate some people will come prepared to show it, but I don’t think there’s going to be every much confusion.” Hecht said. Despite having to make some last-minute changes to their plans, removing the ID requirement may make things a bit easier for clerks this election, said Wondra, who added that she thinks some clerks are now “kind of breathing a sigh of relief.”
“It’s not that they cared that we had voter ID … it’s just that it kind of came on fast and I think everyone was a bit nervous making sure that it got handled correctly,” she said. “I think they’d prefer a little longer time to get ready.” And while some clerks are hoping to see a final decision on the law, they’re ready to roll with the punches until then. “It would be great to have it resolved — that would be wonderful,” said New Richmond City Clerk Tanya Reigel. “But we’re used to things changing, and changing quickly, when it comes to elections.”