Governor Walker recently signed a bill that requires voters to show IDs at the polls. The new bill will cost Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $7 million in new spending and lost revenue, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Many claim that the measure will do little to prevent voter fraud and will disenfranchise thousands of minority, elderly and rural voters.
According to PolitiFact, Wisconsin’s law is one of the most restrictive, based on research on acceptable IDs and voting procedures for those without IDs from state election offices, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Under the new law, citizens would be allowed to vote only after showing a photo ID such as a Wisconsin driver’s license, state-issued ID card, certain very limited student IDs, military IDs, passports, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a tribe based in Wisconsin. The new law will be partially implemented in the upcoming recall elections this year, with full implementation beginning with the presidential election in 2012.
Wisconsin’s allowance of student IDs comes with a major caveat: Photo IDs from accredited, Wisconsin-based colleges and universities could be used to vote if they had signatures on them and expired within two years of being issued. The University of Wisconsin System IDs, however, do not meet the law’s criteria.
Those showing college IDs would have to establish they are current students, such as by presenting fee payment receipts in conjunction with their college IDs or cross-referencing their name on a student housing list provided by the university to election clerks. Other voters will have to present a state-issued ID showing their current address. If the address on the ID is not up to date, then a utility bill in their name with their current address will also have to be presented at the poll.
While voter ID laws do not directly bar anyone from voting, they add hurdles and rules to a process that already prescribes voting hours, legal voting age and residency requirements. The legislation should prevent people from voting in another’s name, but not the most commonly prosecuted form of voter fraud in the state – felons voting while on state supervision.
According the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 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.