After 3 vetoes from former Governor Jim Doyle, the Wisconsin state legislature is again going to bring up the need for voter identification at the polls. Wisconsin currently has one of the nations’ least restrictive set of voting requirements, which leads to the potential of voter fraud affecting the results of state and local elections. Those against the legislation say that since there are no known instances of widespread voter fraud in the state (which is true) then this legislation can only lead to voter suppression among minorities, the elderly, and students and will, in the words of one of my very good Democratic Party-koolaid drinking friends, “take away the right to vote from many students.” This statement is patently false.
The right for all people to vote in the municipality they are legally entitled to vote in is affirmed, and in fact, strengthened by this legislation. Voters must show an ID with their current address at the polls in order to register same-day. For out of state students, and for those who have recently moved, this does make same-day registration more difficult. However, the bill allows for any qualified voter to receive (for free) a Wisconsin ID card at a local DMV center with proof of address, which does not truly present too heavy of a burden on voters. This opinion is shared by liberal hero and Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote in the majority opinion in Crawford vs. Marion County Election Board concerning Indiana voter ID law,
“The relevant burdens here are those imposed on eligible voters who lack photo identification cards that comply with SEA 483. Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons—e.g., elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.”
All of these mitigating circumstances are present in the Wisconsin law being proposed, and in fact, added to that are provisions not requiring ID if you live in a nursing home, if your ID has been taken away by a law enforcement officer, or if a person is voting absentee from a location they have already shown ID for. Voter ID will not lead to voter suppression of people who truly wish to vote, especially compared to suppression tactics used by the son of US Rep. Gwen Moore in 2004 http://www.wisn.com/news/4113353/detail.html or purported voter caging efforts of the Wisconsin GOP: http://peoplesworld.org/wisconsin-gop-plots-vote-suppression/. Those who wish to vote, can, and will go through the correct process of obtaining a free and updated Wisconsin ID, and in the case of UW Madison students, will be able to use their included bus pass to ride to a DMV center to do so.
When a national student organization such as USSA is giving workshops attended by UW System students where they are teaching illegal immigrants how to commit voter fraud, and when we have students at Marquette University bragging about voting multiple times, we as a state need to make sure that voter fraud will not occur, especially when even small amount of fraud have the potential to change such elections as local races won by 7 votes (Katrina Flores primary loss in Madison’s 8th district in 2009) and state-wide elections won by only .2% of voters (Gore’s Wisconsin win over Bush in 2000).