February 22, 2011
CONTACT:Jay Heck – 608/256-2686
MOST RESTRICTIVE VOTER ID LEGISLATION IN THE NATION ABOUT TO BECOME ILLEGAL?
At 1:00 PM (or after adjournment of the State Senate today) the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections is scheduled to hold an executive session on Senate Bill 6 -- legislation that would require voters in Wisconsin to show a Wisconsin Driver's license or Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) - issued photo ID at their polling place (or by 4:00 PM the next day at their local elections board office) in order for their vote to be counted.
The measure - which would make Wisconsin the most restrictive and difficult state in the nation in which to cast a vote - may also emerge from the executive session as unconstitutional as applied -- which could cause the State to have to incur millions of dollars in legal costs to defend an indefensible measure in the numerous lawsuits which would soon follow its enactment into law.
Press reports have said the Republican Senators on the Committee may vote to strip the fiscal note from the bill so they can move ahead with bringing it for a vote by the full Senate while Senate Democrats remain out of state. Such a move would mean the state would not pay for the additional costs to make DOT- issued photo identification cards available to voters who requested them and that would be tantamount to a poll tax -- forcing voters to have to pay the state in order to vote.
Poll taxes were widely used in the southern United States for years to deny African-Americans the ability to vote and were struck down by Courts decades ago (24th Amendment to the Constitution). Even without removing the fiscal note, Senate Bill 6 is thought to be unconstitutional by many experts because of the undue burden that it places on voters. In its current form, Senate Bill 6 would make it more difficult and burdensome to vote than it is in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and even Georgia -- which currently has one of the nation's most restrictive voting laws. Of those four southern states, only Georgia requires a photo ID.
If press reports prove to be correct, Wisconsin Senate Republicans would not only be pushing through the most restrictive voting bill in the nation, but one that is likely to be illegal as well.
The Members of the State Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections are:
|Senator Mary Lazich (Chair)|
|Senator Joseph Leibham (Vice-Chair)|
|Senator Frank Lasee|
|Senator Jon Erpenbach|
|Senator Spencer Coggs|
We will have more to say about this after the committee vote today.
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
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