Thursday, January 13, 2011

Voter ID in Wisconsin: A Bill and a Constitutional Amendment

Link to January 13 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, "Republicans unveil plan for voter ID, constitutional amendment".

Excerpt: Republicans plan a two-pronged approach to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, with the quick passage of a bill followed by an attempt to amend the Wisconsin Constitution that would make it difficult to undo the ID requirement.

"Photo ID is really going to be the foundation of ensuring fair and accurate elections," said Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale).

Stone and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) introduced their bill Wednesday. They said they will also take steps to amend the state constitution, a years-long process that would require the measure to be approved in this legislative session, again in the session that starts in January 2013, and then by voters in a statewide referendum.

By changing the constitution, they could lock in the photo ID requirement and make it difficult for Democrats to eliminate

First-Time Voters
The federal Help America Vote Act mandates that all states require identification from first-time voters who registered to vote by mail and did not provide verification of their identification with their mail-in voter registration.

Blanket Voter ID
Twenty-seven states have broader voter identification requirements than what HAVA mandates (note, however that the newly passed requirement in Oklahoma does not take effect until July 1, 2011). In these states, all voters are asked to show identification prior to voting. Nine of these states specify that voters must show a photo ID; the other eighteen states accept additional forms of identification that do not necessarily include a photo. In no state is a voter who cannot produce identification turned away from the polls—all states have some sort of recourse for voters without identification to cast a vote. However, in Georgia and Indiana, voters without ID vote a provisional ballot, and must return to election officials within a few days and show a photo ID in order for their ballots to be counted.  [Emphasis added.  Note sub-headline in J-S article: "Wisconsin's requirement would be among strictest in nation."]

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