Voter identification — considered a safeguard against fraud by some and an effort to disenfranchise voters by others — was a hot topic in state legislatures this year. Twenty states that didn’t have requirements requiring voter ID at the polls at the beginning of 2011 considered legislation this year. Two states — Kansas and Wisconsin — so far have enacted new voter ID requirements, statistics posted on the National Conference for State Legislatures indicate.
Governors in Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed voter ID bills in 2011, but backers in Minnesota vowed to pass a similar ID bill next year that would skip the gubernatorial step and take the matter to the voters instead, similar to what the Oklahoma Legislature did in 2009 and 2010. Mississippi voters will weigh in on a citizen initiative proposing voter ID in November. Of the 30 states with voter ID laws, 14 require a picture ID of the voter.
During the recent recall elections, poll workers in Wisconsin asked voters to present ID as a trial run in several elections, but voters won’t have to show a voter ID until the February 2012 primary.
In a report, the League of Woman Voters in Wisconsin indicated the dry run created some confusion at the polls, WXOW-TV, La Crosse, Wis., reported recently.
The league said it monitored 94 polling places, reporting long lines and inconsistency by election workers about asking voters for identification.
“It had been a very quick turnaround [between] the time the laws had changed and the first election, which was the recall election. So there wasn’t as complete training as there probably will be before next spring,” League of Woman Voters member Ellen Roseborough told WXOW.