The state Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill that would require Wisconsin voters to show photo identification during a ragged session Thursday, clearing the way for Gov. Scott Walker to sign the measure into law next week.
Assembly Republicans passed the measure in a late-night session last week. Republicans who control the Senate brought the bill up for debate on Tuesday. Democrats railed against it into the early morning hours on Wednesday, finally using a procedural maneuver to delay the final vote until Thursday.
Republicans have been pushing the photo ID bill for years. They contend it’s needed to curtail voter fraud. Democrats maintain widespread fraud doesn’t exist in Wisconsin and Republicans just want to disenfranchise Democrat constituencies such as senior citizens, college students and the poor. Only 20 voter fraud cases have been prosecuted by the state Department of Justice and Milwaukee County district attorney’s office stemming from the November 2008 presidential election. None of those prosecuted involved people voting using someone else’s name at the polls.
A number of other changes would take effect immediately, including requiring voters to sign poll books and to live at their current address for 28 days rather than 10 before they could cast a ballot. Those changes would come into play during possible Senate recall elections later this year. Groups have targeted six Republican and three Democratic senators for recall over their stances on Walker’s collective bargaining law, which strips public workers of nearly all their union rights.
One estimate put the ID bill’s cost at more than $7 million.