July 15, 2011

WI voter ID Law: Hurdles for voters, little to curb voter fraud & $7 million tab

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 8:29 pm

Author’s note:

Wisconsin is one of 13 states that have passed voter ID Laws, despite the fact that there is no evidence of wisespread voter fraud at the polls. These laws do little ot nothing to prevent voter fraud. Rather, the laws are meant to make it more difficult for the poor, minorities, students (ie. voters who tend to vote Dem) to vote.


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.

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.

Critics of the voter ID law claim that voters will be “disenfranchised” when states create additional eligibility requirements such as IDs. “Disenfranchised” is typically defined as “depriving” a person of a right or privilege.

Scot Ross, head of the advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, said evidence suggests reduced voter participation is likely. “When new impediments prevent otherwise legal voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote, that is the definition of disenfranchisement.” Rob Richie, executive director, Fair Vote, The Center for Voting and Democracy, uses “disenfranchise” to describe what he sees as the real-world impact of the laws.

Critics of ID provisions also say it is inevitable that some voters will not learn of the requirements or be unable to fulfill them and be turned away at polling places. One AFL-CIO press release said the Wisconsin bill would “strip” hundreds of thousands of people of their constitutional right to vote.

A coalition of House Democrats and civil rights leaders said Wednesday that the Obama Justice Department needs to do more to stop states from implementing voter ID bills which disenfranchise minority voters. They called it a coordinated plan by Republicans to prevent students, minorities and the elderly from exercising their right to vote. (See video at below link).

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) dismissed a frequent argument made by supporters of voter ID laws – that since photo identification is required for plenty of everyday activities, it should be required at the polls as well. “You wanna know something? Getting a video from Blockbuster is not a constitutional right. Getting liquor from the liquor store is not a constitutional right.”

Moore said that when Gov. Scott Walker ran against her for state assembly back in the 1990s, he told an unnamed Republican colleague that he thought he could beat her because the district was majority white. “Who do you think he’s trying to disenfranchise? He’s been trying for all these years since 1990 on a consistent basis to institute these voter ID bills,” Moore said.

According to investigative journalist Brad Friedman, writing for The BRAD BLOG, “based on empirical academic studies and even hard data from George W. Bush’s own Dept. of Justice, legislation implemented in order to restrict access to the polling place as based, ostensibly, on assertions of the incredibly rare crime of voter impersonation at the polls, is meant to do nothing more than suppress voters – specifically, minority, urban, elderly, and student (read: Democratic-leaning) ones.”

Some 18% of the legal electorate in this country do not possess the type of IDs required by these laws, and are likely to be disenfranchised or forced to cast provisional ballots and procure new IDs in order to exercise their legal right to vote, even though polling place impersonation is almost as rare as unicorns and leprechauns.

Read more, get links and a video here: Madison Independent Examiner

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this piece, Greg, but I can’t help but think that there is bound to be a major blowback on the GOP in WI from these photo ID laws. Many GOP voters these days are elderly, or don’t have their heads screwed on tight and probably won’t have their documentation in order. Also, many who voted for Republicans in 2010 are disenchanted with what they’ve done. Meanwhile, the Dem, independent, and progressive voters are energized to get rid of Walker and the GOP majority in the state legislature, so they have a good reason for showing up at the polls with photo ID ready. I just hope the groups in WI watch out for GOP cheating.

    Comment by RS Janes — July 18, 2011 @ 6:01 am

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