U.S. Rep. Moore asks Wisconsin to hold off on voter ID law

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore is calling on the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to wait until after the general election to implement the state voter ID law.

The Democratic representative from Milwaukee made the request in a letter to Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel for GAB. She wrote as the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin asked for a full federal appeals court review of the ruling that removed the injunction against the voter ID law, Act 23.

That decision by a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for the GAB and the Walker administration to enforce the law in the midterm elections, even though the election process already is underway.

Advocates of the law say it will help protect the integrity of the voting process. The measure passed in 2011 requires voters to show government-issued photo IDs — driver’s licenses, state ID cards, some college student and military IDs, passports and naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a Wisconsin-based American Indian tribe.

Opponents maintain that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and will make it difficult — or impossible — for some citizens to exercise their right to vote. Critics also say requiring people to acquire certain IDs amounts to a poll tax.

Moore has opposed the legislation. And in her letter, she asked that the GAB at least wait to implement the controversial act until after the Nov. 4 election because of “the irreparable harm and mass confusion it will cause.”

She wrote, “Enforcing Act 23 for the November election will … cause widespread confusion for voters and election officials. Until the Seventh Circuit decision … it is my understanding that election officials were operating under the assumption that no voter ID law would be in place. For example, it has been reported that over 11,000 absentee ballots have already been mailed without voter ID instructions. Further, it would be a tremendous burden on the state to sufficiently train 1,852 municipal clerks and countless poll workers before the election.”

Moore continued, “It is also disturbing that there have been no public education efforts on voter ID for over two years, and many of my constituents in the 4th Congressional District are unaware that they will need to obtain an ID. Moreover, the new ‘free ID’ guidance, in response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, is untested and likely to be insufficient to provide IDs to everyone who is lacking in light of the short time frame.”

The congresswoman, not alone among Democrats in objecting to the law, said it would be irresponsible to proceed with the change before the election.