Today, student leaders from 23 colleges and universities across Wisconsin – public universities, private schools, community and technical colleges – urged state legislators to include student identification cards in the proposed photo identification legislation.
In a letter to Representative Gary Tauchen, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform, student government representatives warned of unnecessary burdens on student voters and taxpayers under the proposed legislation (AB 7 and SB 6), which limits the forms of acceptable IDs to a narrow list of government-issued photo IDs.
From Sam Polstein, Chair of Chair of Legislative Affairs for the Associated Students of Madison, UW-Madison’s student government: “We are concerned that this bill is an attack on the voting rights of students. Voting is a sacred right and Wisconsin has a proud tradition of fostering civic participation. Unfortunately, this bill would subject our rights to our ability to get to the DMV and pay for an otherwise unnecessary ID or have the taxpayers pay for one for us. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Student leaders plan to testify at a hearing on the photo ID bill in the Committee on Election and Campaign Reform on Wednesday (April 27th) at 10:00 a.m. in the North Hearing Room in the State Capitol. If you are in Madison and want to add your voice, please show up between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
I’d invite all Wisconsinites to stand with these students and let the committee know that you think student IDs should be added to this bill. It is super easy . . . just click here to get started.
Some background: AB 7 would be particularly burdensome on out-of-state students who are lawfully registered voters, but unlikely to have Wisconsin identification beyond their student IDs. It is estimated that there are 60,000 students from other states on college and university campuses in Wisconsin who would need to get additional state-issued identification. According to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study, 36% of young people, including more than 70% of African-Americans ages 18 to 24, do not have a driver’s license. Yet, one out of every four of Wisconsin’s 91 DMVs are open only one day a month, the state has only one DMV with weekend hours, and three Wisconsin counties have no DMV’s at all.
Kevin Kennedy, Director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (the entity that runs elections in the state), recognizes the burden on students under current legislative proposals and testified in January before the Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections that “student identification card issued by an accredited institution of higher education, including a university, college or technical school” should be added to photo ID legislation.
Students across Wisconsin agree. Let’s hope the politicians do, too. (Did I mention that you can agree as well by clicking here?)
Frankly, if we all think that maximum participation in our democracy is a good thing, then let’s make sure eligible voters have access to the ballot box, not face unnecessary barriers. Wisconsin historically has had some of the highest turnout rates for young voters in the country, and this would be an unfortunate step backwards.