This November, voters will be required to show a Wisconsin” or United States -issued photo ID before they are allowed to cast a ballot. With less than fifty days until Election Day, voters who don’t already have a Wisconsin – or United State – issued photo ID need to start making plans immediately to obtain an acceptable form of ID for voting purposes. On Friday, September 12, 2014, the U.S Seventh District Court of Appeals reinstated Wisconsin’s photo ID law, which requires voters to present a Wisconsin – or United States -issued photo ID before casting a ballot. In the decision, the court allowed the state to put the law into effect immediately for the upcoming November elections, less than two months away. The law, originally approved by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature back in 2011, is a misguided attempt to solve the non-existent problem of in-person voter fraud. Since taking office three years ago, Scott Walker has been a strong advocate of the law, often repeating the outrageous claim that the law makes it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.” Studies have repeatedly shown that in-person voter fraud—individuals pretending to be someone else at the polling station in order to vote more than once— is virtually non-existent. A 2012 national survey funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found only 10 cases of in-person voter fraud since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases represented about one out of every 15 million eligible voters. At best, the new law is a solution in search of a problem; at worst, it’s an underhanded plot to keep voters from turning out in Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee and Madison. Even if this wasn’t an electoral scheme that Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers laid out behind closed doors and are now celebrating as electoral reform, the added requirement of a photo ID flies in the face of the long and bitter struggle for voting rights in the United States. It is unbelievable that in 2014 this is a fight that we must continue to wage just to enjoy
our constitutional right to vote in free and fair elections. The hurdle is a bit higher, but it isn’t too high to clear. Scott Walker will be a one term governor if voters begin preparing now to obtain an acceptable form of identification in order to cast a ballot. Just as civil rights leaders showed their outrage through marches and demonstrations, voters should plan to express their collective disapproval of this law at the ballot box in November. Scott Walker and others who support this law do not want seniors, veterans and minorities to vote in elections this year and into the future. On November 4th, voters will affirm that their voices cannot be silenced. For those who are angered by this law, or frustrated by the failings of Scott Walker and Republicans over the past three and a half years, the time is now to make plans to obtain an ID card in order to vote. If you already have a valid Wisconsin – or United States -issued photo ID, please note that the address listed on your card does not have to match your voting address. In fact, the ID does not have to have an address listed on it at all. If you do not have a valid Wisconsin – or United States – issued photo ID, effective Monday, September 15, the
Department of Transportation is issuing free ID cards for voting purposes. Applicants can only apply for free ID cards at a DMV Service Center. The Wisconsin Identification Card Application requires a social security number and documents that prove the applicant’s identity and where they live. Examples of acceptable documents for proof of identity at the DMV include a birth certificate, valid U.S. passport or passport card, military discharge papers, U.S. government and military dependent identification card, social security card, or a pay stub with your name and entire social security number listed. Examples of acceptable documents for proof of Wisconsin residency at the DMV include paychecks, stubs or earning statements with your employer’s name and address issued within the last 90 days, utility bills for water, gas, electricity or land-line telephone service issued within the last 90 days, cell phone bills issued in the last 90 days, original copies of deed/title or mortgage or rental/lease agreement for Wisconsin property, or original copies of a current valid homeowner’s, renter’s or motor vehicle insurance policy dated within one year of application. For more information on the photo ID application process and acceptable documents for proof of residency and identity visit www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/petition-process.htm; or call the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles identification card for voting hotline at (608) 266-1069. Don’t sit at home on election day, make plans to visit a DMV right away, and prepare to send a message to Scott Walker and Republicans that they will never be able to take away your vote. The time is now to make sure you’re prepared under the new law to vote for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket who support expanding voting rights—not restricting them.