Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Election Day - Photo ID NOT Required (yet...)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin would like to remind voters that they don’t have to show a photo ID to vote on Election Day, Tuesday April 5.

Though photo ID is not required to vote in Tuesday’s election, voters across the state may be confused about current voting laws due to a proposal before the legislature (SB 6) that if passed would require eligible voters to show one of a limited number of state-issued photo identification documents each time they vote.

“First we hope that confusion about the proposed law doesn’t keep eligible voters without a current ID from exercising their right to elect officials on Tuesday,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Associate Director Renee Shavers. “But further, people should know there is still time to voice their opposition to photo ID requirements for voting.” The Government Accountability Board issued a statement Monday that also reminded voters that ID was not required for the upcoming Election Day.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimates that if the proposed law were passed, it could cost the state nearly $3 million dollars in training, equipment, materials and lost revenues from a requirement to provide free identification. The Government Accountability Board estimates that over $2.3 million dollars would be needed to update databases, forms, provide voter education, poll worker training and other costs associated with major changes in voting rights laws (find more on the bill’s fiscal estimate online).

Also, the Department of Transportation estimates that about 20% of Wisconsin’s eligible voters do not have a state-issued photo ID. Citizens who tend not to have current photo identification include a disproportionate number of people of color as well as the elderly, people with disabilities, those who rely on public transportation, and mobile populations such as college students. The ACLU of Wisconsin opposes SB 6 because it would restrict the free and fair voting rights of eligible voters while having a discriminatory effect on minorities. Read more about our opposition to voter ID on our blog.

“When our state has such a long history of free and open elections, we need to work to make sure every citizen has the right to vote, no matter what’s in their wallets,” said Shavers.

The ACLU of Wisconsin has information on the right to vote (including people who have had criminal convictions) at aclu-wi.org. Please contact the Milwaukee or Madison office if you have complaints about voter access at your local polling place on Election Day.