Wisconsin’s voter identification bill has stirred up much controversy in the state.
The “soft implementation” of the law during the recent recall elections allowed some interesting views and stories to surface. Before we explore them further, here is some background on the Wisconsin voter identification law: The law states that a driver’s license or a state identification card issued by the Department of Transportation will be required at the polls starting in 2012. (Certain student IDs, military IDs, tribal IDs, or a passport will also be accepted.)
Now if you do not have these types of identification, you will have to obtain them with another form of identification (such as a birth certificate). If you do not have these other forms of identification, then you may have to pay to receive a copy of them. Once you pay for your ID copy, wait however long it takes the state to send it, and receive it – then and only then can you be on your merry way to the DMV.
(State legislators from Milwaukee have introduced legislation that would allow county residents to receive a free copy of their birth certificates for those who need it to get an ID for voting. That bill has not become law.)
Once you’ve acquired your birth certificate, you’re able to attain your driver’s license or state identification card. That’s great and all, but if you don’t have a driver’s license how will you get to the DMV? You could ask someone to drive you, hail a cab (even though you may have spent all of your money on a birth certificate copy), or take public transportation.
Let’s be honest though, if going to the DMV is bad then taking public transportation to the DMV may be worse. This is where Charlotte Riley steps in.
Riley, a former teacher from Dell Prairie, WI, is offering to drive people to the DMV to obtain proper voting identification. She has stated that she will give rides to Republicans, Democrats, probably even Scott Walker. Riley knows that this new voting process is tough and filled with barriers, so she figures she might as well make the best of it and give people a ride: “A person is a person as far as I’m concerned, and I think that they should be able to exercise their voting rights. This is one way I can help them do that.” You can read more about Charlotte’s endeavor and even hit her up for a ride here: http://bit.ly/rrbCqE.
Okay, you did it! You received your birth certificate, obtained the proper voter identification, and now it’s finally time to go to the polls and flash that glossy ID. Well, not so fast.
While the law will not be enacted until 2012, the state asked city clerks to voluntarily require voter ID at the polls during Wisconsin’s recent recall elections. De Pere City responded, “Sure, why not?” and as a result, its polling centers offered a good preview of the 2012 polls.
“We had a wait of up to an hour in line at two of our polling places,” De Pere City Clerk Char Peterson said. Many voters took time showing their IDs and inquiring about the law when they showed up at the polls unaware of it: “That slowed it down, just answering their questions and calming them down because some of them did become upset, even having to be asked for that,” Peterson said. Peterson does not oppose the law; however, she is worried about the time it takes and the long lines it has caused: “I am concerned that people may become frustrated and say, ‘I’m not going to bother voting.’ That is my biggest concern.” Well, at least you can practice waiting in line at the polls when you go the DMV to get your ID! You can find out more about De Pere City’s wait to vote here: http://bit.ly/q2AnV7.
These odds and ends stories that have surfaced around WI’s voter identification bill are great indicators as to the effects it has on constituents and lawmakers. They are also good calls to action, which people like Charlotte Riley have already taken. You may think the law does not affect you, but the long lines in De Pere City affected those with and without IDs. Obtaining and using the proper voter ID is long and difficult for everyone, it just depends how much of the process will inconvenience will you.
If you want to help people get IDs or need to know more information, go to www.rockthevote.com/wisconsin.