Is the (voter) proof in the picture?Proposed legislation to require Wisconsin citizens to show photo identification each time they vote is either a good idea or a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, say local poll workers.
By: Judy Wiff, The Republican Eagle
Proposed legislation to require Wisconsin citizens to show photo identification each time they vote is either a good idea or a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, say local poll workers.
The bill, introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature last week, mirrors Indiana’s voter ID law which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, said co-sponsor Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls.
This isn’t intended to discourage or prevent people from voting, it’s an attempt to make sure a voter is who he says he is, Harsdorf said. The ID could be a driver’s license, a military ID or a state-issued ID card.
“The important thing is that we do what we can to ensure the integrity of our elections,” Harsdorf said. “One fraudulent vote negates an honest vote.”
While she didn’t question the motives behind the bill, St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell hopes state lawmakers take their time with it.
“It’s just too much in too little time,” said Campbell, citing the push to have a new law in place before the spring elections.
Now voters just have to provide proof of residence, which could be a driver’s license or utility bill, to register. If they are already registered, they have only to announce their name and address when they come to vote.
In fact, election clerks can’t at this point ask for identification, photo or otherwise, Campbell said.
She said a quick change would confuse both voters and poll workers.
“If (voters) don’t bring their ID, then what?” Campbell wondered.
Campbell encouraged lawmakers to try to imagine every scenario poll workers may encounter. She also wonders how the new law would deal with absentee voters, military voters or low-income people who don’t have photo ID.
“I can see both sides,” said Clifton Clerk Judy Clement-Lee, who has no strong feelings on the bill either way.
But, she said, the change will be confusing and will slow the voting process.
Under the current law, a poll worker can challenge a people if there is reason to believe he or she is ineligible to vote. There are a series of questions to ask and forms to fill out in that situation, but Campbell said she’s never had a clerk use that process.
“We’re just a small township so it’s not a big thing,” agreed Clement-Lee. “A lot of these people we just know.”
In small towns, election workers know most of their neighbors, so voter fraud is less likely to occur, but it’s more of a problem in more urban areas, Harsdorf said.
She predicted that most concerns will be addressed when the Legislature holds hearings on the bill.
“I think there’s an intent to make this a bill that will work,” Harsdorf said.
Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, vetoed a voter photo ID bill three times during his administration, but Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, has said he would sign it into law.