The new voting law is confusing. Need to know what type of IDs is acceptable or how to vote absentee? The answer is not so simple.
Beginning in 2012, voters will need a photo identification card to vote. Only certain types of photo IDs are acceptable. The acceptable IDs are
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) issued driver’s license.
- Wisconsin DOT-issued identification card.
- Identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed service (military ID).
- U.S. Passport
- Certificate of Naturalization issued no earlier than two years before the date of the election.
- A receipt issued by DOT when the driver’s license or ID card is taken for a violation.
- Official Tribal ID Card
- An unexpired identification card issued by an accredited Wisconsin university or college that contains a date of issuance, student signature and expiration date no later than two years after the date of issuance.
When you go to vote in 2012 election inspectors will verify that your name on the poll list matches the name on your ID. They will also verify the photo reasonably resembles you. They will then ask you to sign a poll list. All of this will take more time.
If your photo ID does not match or if you forget or don’t have an ID, you can still vote but the ballot is treated as ‘provisional’ meaning it will not be counted unless you show up again at the clerk’s office by 4:00 pm the Friday after Election Day with a valid ID.
People who vote absentee will also face new rules. Most mail-in absentee voters will be required to send in a copy of a photo ID with their request for an absentee ballot. This requirement goes into effect with the non-partisan primary next February.
College students are very concerned about what type of ID will or will not be allowed. Currently no Wisconsin college or university offers a type of ID acceptable by the new law. Recent Government Accountability Board rules suggest four-year colleges and universities can issue IDs with stickers. But many schools say they would rather offer a new ID. This will come at a cost.
Technical college student IDs do not serve as an acceptable ID card for voting.
Wisconsin law requires the Department of Transportation to provide a free ID to anyone of voting age who specifically asks for a free ID for voting. The usual charge for a replacement ID is $28. Some people have encountered problems getting free IDs.
Also ‘free’ does not apply to any ‘secondary’ documents needed to get an ID. Usually people need to present a certified birth certificate. But this certificate comes with a cost.
Because of this fee and other problems associated with the Voter ID law, several groups are challenging the constitutionality of the law in court. The League of Woman Voters recently filed suit. Andrea Kaminski, the Executive Director of the League, in a recent interview talked about ID requirements people face getting a birth certificate.
“It’s a real Catch-22,” Andrea said. Older people born at home or in the South may not have been issued birth certificates. So they need an ID to get an ID.
During the Senate floor debate on Voter ID I argued rural people are among those at a disadvantage. We have few driver license centers. Those centers are often open just a few hours a month.
Previous courts have looked at legal issues like the burden of traveling to get an ID, advance planning necessary to make the trip, and whether or not the ID was free.
I am very concerned citizens will not vote if the hurdles are too high to get a valid ID. Unlike renting a video or cashing a check - which also require an ID - voting is a right enshrined in our constitution. Don’t let this law stop you from exercising your rights.
If you have questions about the new law or know someone who is having a problem getting an ID please give me a call. I can be reached toll-free at 877-763-6636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .