An internal Republican memo instructs employees with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation not to tell state voters they can get a free photo ID – unless they specifically request one for free. Otherwise, they’ll be charged $28.
The memo was sent out by former Republican state Senate aide Steve Krieser, the Huffington Post reported.
A new, Republican-backed law went into effect July 1 that requires voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls. Introduced by GOP corporate operatives in Wisconsin, the law was designed by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council to make it more difficult for traditionally Democratic voters, including students, the elderly and minorities, to vote.
Groups struggling to maintain the right for people to vote in America say that Wisconsin’s law will disenfranchise countless voters, not only because of the fee but also because of the cost of the inconvenience. With budgetary cuts to the Department of Transportation, lines to obtain driver’s licenses and photo IDs have become routinely several hours long in the state.
In rural and northern Wisconsin, few DMV locations are open more than two days a week – and none on weekends, according to One Wisconsin Now executive director Scott Ross. He said that people would need to take time off work to get to a DMV before they are allowed to vote.
Twenty-six percent of the 91 Wisconsin DMV stations are open one day a month or less, Ross said. Therefore, making people pay $28 on top of the cost of actually getting to a DMV could be unacceptably burdensome.
Ross and others have likened the state’s voter ID law to the poll taxes of the Jim Crow era in the South, which prevented minorities from voting.