Vote
Voting is supposed to be open to all U.S. citizens, but one Wisconsin law may be making it more difficult. Image: Flickr / hjl / CC-BY

In the state of Wisconsin, voting requires a state-issued ID card. The law is being challenged in the courts, but it is currently in effect. State-issued ID cards for purposes of voting are supposed to be free, but state officials are making it difficult to obtain that free registration card.

Wisconsin voter ID requirement

In the state of Wisconsin, voting requires a Wisconsin State Department of Transportation-issued Drivers License number or Wisconsin Identification card. Provisional voting is allowed if individuals do not have one of these cards with them, but they must provide the information within three days. The DMV is required to provide an identification card for voting purposes for free, though a state-issued identification card is $28.

Getting a free Voter ID card

In a memo published by The Capital Times, a Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles official directed employees to not offer or mention the fact that state ID cards can be obtained for free. Instead, the employees are told to offer information on the voter registration cards only if the individual knows to check the appropriate box. Getting these cards requires proof of identity, such as a school ID or expired ID card. The card also requires proof of residency, which includes utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, government documents, or real estate tax bills. There have been reports that the Wisconsin DMV has been skeptical about some attempts to prove residency.

Legal challenges to the ID requirement

The Wisconsin requirement that all voters show a Wisconsin state identification card when voting is being challenged in court. The League of Women Voters plans to file suit, claiming that the new voter ID law provides an unnecessary restriction that limits access to voting. The law is written to allow for free access to Voter ID cards, which are the same as Wisconsin state ID cards. The argument is that requirements for the free cards are too restrictive, and the $28 fee that voters are not informed of can be waived unless they already know to check the box could create what is essentially a tax on voting. States are allowed to limit voting to individuals who meet residency requirements of the state, but the law also requires any U.S. citizen who is over the age of 18 be allowed to vote without restriction.

Sources

USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/09/wisconsin/1?csp=34news
AARP: http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-09-2011/photo-id-laws-impact-wi.html
Wisconsin State Government: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters/registration-voting
Campus Progress: http://campusprogress.org/articles/wisconsin_voter_id_law_to_face_legal_challenge/

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