After an eight-year quest by GOP officials, Gov. Scott Walker will sign a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.
But the measure costing more than $7 million in new spending and lost revenue could still face a legal challenge as opponents mulled over the possibility of suing to block it from taking effect.
The legislation will require poll workers to start asking voters for photo IDs for the July 12 state Senate recalls elections, but the voters will not be required to present them until next year’s presidential primary.
“Requiring photo identification to vote will go a long way to eliminate the threat of voter fraud,” Walker said last week. “If you need an ID to buy cold medicine, it’s reasonable to require it to vote.”
The signing will make Wisconsin the 11th state to have approved requiring some form of photo ID at the polls. Democrats have decried the measure, saying it would do little to prevent voter fraud while disenfranchising thousands of minority, elderly and rural voters.
“This is voter suppression,” Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said during the Senate vote approving the bill last week. “This is voter disenfranchisement. This is voter confusion. This is voter restriction. This is a voter discouragement bill.”
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s photo ID law in 2008, but opponents say Wisconsin’s law could be vulnerable to a legal challenge because of differences between the states such as less access to state offices providing driver’s licenses. Unlike voters in Indiana, people in Wisconsin casting absentee ballots would have to include a photocopy of their ID when they mail their ballots. Getting copies made will be an additional burden on elderly voters and others with limited mobility, critics said.
Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said her group is considering joining with others to sue over the photo ID requirement because of concerns it will disenfranchise voters. She said opponents of the bill are discussing whether a lawsuit would be more effective now or after the law has gone into effect, and they can identify voters who were unable to vote because of the new requirement.
… The state Department of Justice and Milwaukee County district attorney’s office have prosecuted 20 cases of voter fraud from the November 2008 election. None involves people voting in someone else’s name at the polls.
Similarly, after the 2004 election, then-U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
A Milwaukee Police Department report during the same election cycle recommended that photo ID be required to vote. The unsigned report was released in 2008 without the approval of police commanders, and Police Chief Edward Flynn did not endorse its policy recommendations.
Under the bill passed last week, people would be allowed to vote only after showing Wisconsin driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards, certain very limited student IDs, military IDs, passports, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a tribe based in Wisconsin.
Those living in retirement homes, nursing homes and institutions would be exempt from the law, as would victims of stalking and those who opposed having their photos taken for religious reasons. A voter who did not show a photo ID would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot that would be counted if the voter showed photo ID to an election clerk by the Friday after the election.
Implementing the bill would cost more than $7 million over the next two years, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to provide $1.8 million to the Government Accountability Board to implement the photo ID requirement – less than the $2.1 million the agency has said it will need to make computer upgrades, train poll workers and educate the public about the new law.
The committee put the money in the state budget, which the Legislature will take up next month. That means the accountability board will receive the funds just weeks before the July 12 recall elections.
In the last part of the overall cost, the state is expected to lose about $4 million over two years in revenue because it will have to provide some people with free IDs.
Full Article: Walker to sign photo ID voting bill today – JSOnline.