Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wisconsin State Senate Expected to Pass Most Restrictive and Burdensome Voter ID Legislation in the Nation Today

Press Release
May 17, 2011

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


The Wisconsin State Senate today is expected to vote to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money Wisconsin doesn't have to implement the most restrictive voter identification system in the nation -- Assembly Bill 7. Last week, the Wisconsin Assembly passed this legislation -- rejecting dozens of amendments that would have, at the very least, made this bad legislation less onerous. And now, the State Senate is about to rubber stamp it as well. Most Wisconsin citizens have said they favor some sort of ID but not the most restrictive legislation in the country with regard to the types of ID that will have to be shown at the polls in order for Wisconsinites to exercise one of their most basic constitutional rights. And this misguided measure has further polarized and divided an already polarized and divided Wisconsin electorate: Voter ID bill raises ire on both sides

Currently only eight of the 50 states in the nation require a photo ID to be shown at the polls to vote. Another 18 require a wide array of other non-photo ID and 24 states require neither. Assembly Bill 7 calls for the fewest and most restrictive forms of ID and would make Wisconsin the most burdensome and difficult state in the nation in which to cast a vote. Why? No proponent of this measure is willing to say why or explain why legislation this extreme is necessary.

It is not because of voter "fraud." There has not been any of consequence. Proponents can't cite any. None. Proponents say this measure "could" prevent future fraud. Really? What in this legislation would prevent anyone from using a fake photo ID? Nothing.

The Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau cites a price tag of $7.5 million just for administrative and training costs and for the free IDs that must be available to citizens who cannot afford to purchase one from the Department of Transportation. But it will cost millions more to add personnel and expanded hours for Department of Motor Vehicle offices and mobile units. And millions more to bring student IDs into compliance with the new law every two years when they will have to be reissued. And then it will cost millions more for the state to defend this law which will almost certainly be challenged in the courts because of its unprecedented restrictiveness and because of how it assaults basic voting rights in Wisconsin. How much will Wisconsin taxpayers have to shoulder to pay for all of this? The sky is the limit.

There will be real confusion about when the provisions of this measure will become effective. Immediately or in 2012? Apparently citizens will be asked to show their photo ID at the polls immediately after this measure becomes law but will be allowed to vote during 2011 -- in the upcoming special and recall elections -- if they do not have one of the proscribed forms of photo ID. They must have that proscribed form of photo ID in order to vote in 2012. Many voters will understandably be confused and will think that they cannot vote in the recall elections without the photo voter ID -- which is likely the intent of the bill's proponents. But there is one important provision that will definitely be effective immediately when this measure is signed into law: a requirement that citizens reside in Wisconsin for at least 28 days instead of the current 10 days - which has been in place for years and has worked just fine. And it is just in time for the upcoming recall elections. So the real goal of proponents of this measure -- to reduce the number of citizens who can vote and to make voting more burdensome and difficult for everyone--could begin as soon as next week.

Most Wisconsin newspapers have editorialized against this photo voter ID measure in its current form. Most Wisconsin citizens will oppose it too once they find out just how restrictive and burdensome it really is.

To let your State Senator know how you feel about this assault on your intelligence and on your constitutional right to vote -- go here/ If you are not sure who your State Senator is -- go here.


Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

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