Thursday, October 16, 2014
The twists and turns in the saga of the extreme and restrictive photo voter ID law in Wisconsin, Act 23, appears to be settled, at least for the time up to and including November 4th - Election Day.
The U.S. Supreme Court's surprising (given its composition) but eminently correct decision last week to halt implementation of voter photo ID, because of the chaos and confusion ensuing in Wisconsin since its reinstatement by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on September 12th, means that Wisconsinites can and should vote as they always have before – without the impediment or burdensome hindrance that Act 23 was specifically designed by its architects to impose on the Wisconsin electorate.
This means Wisconsinites can vote this coming election the way they have voted for years: as citizens participating in and exercising their most fundamental democratic right without unnecessary requirements designed to suppress the vote of certain segments of the population in order to gain partisan advantage.
The nation's high court did not pass judgement on voter photo ID itself. That will be decided after the election in all likelihood. And that battle will be joined then. But for now, there is no reason or excuse for any voter in Wisconsin who is eligible to vote, not to do so. Without one of the narrow array of proscribed forms of ID called for in Act 23.
If you are already registered to vote at your local polling place, simply head to the polls on Election Day and vote – no ID required. Or vote early at your local municipal clerk's office – you can do so from October 20th-24th or October 27th-31st.
What if you are not already registered to vote at your local polling place?
You can register to vote in your municipal clerk's office up until October 31st or on Election Day when you vote.
Be sure to bring a document – either hard copy or electronic (on your cellphone/tablet/laptop) – that proves you live within your voting district (e.g., a recent utility bill, bank statement, pay stub) and either the number and expiration date of your Wisconsin driver's license or Wisconsin DOT-issued ID card or the last four digits of your social security number (only if you don't have a WI license/ID card).
Read this excellent voting rights guide from the ACLU of WI for more detailed information about voter eligibility, absentee/early voting, other forms of proof of residency, and more.
If you are (or know of) a college student looking for basic information about voting in Wisconsin, CC/WI has developed a one-page fact sheet you can download and print here.
And finally, just because voter ID has been blocked for the November 4th election, that does not mean that eligible voters are no longer in danger of being disenfranchised at the polls.
Help ensure that no eligible voters are denied the right to cast a ballot by volunteering to be an election observer.
Our friends at The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin provide everything you need to get up-to-speed in no time: online training, a reporting form, a polling place assignment and numbers to call on Election Day if you have a question or need to report a problem.
Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Election Protection is also looking for volunteer poll watchers. You can find out more by contacting their State Coordinator, Sheila Cochran by email or phone at 414-771-7070. Being an election observer is a simple way to make a huge difference. Please reach out to one of these two organizations and volunteer!
And remember, there is no excuse for you not to cast a vote on or before election day. Share this information with family and friends – and make sure that they exercise their right to vote as well.
Common Cause in Wisconsin
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