Tag Archives: identification

Bill to ban local government IDs goes to Walker

The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a bill that would stall Milwaukee’s efforts to provide local photo IDs to the homeless, immigrants in the country illegally and others who have difficulty obtaining state IDs.

The Republican bill would prohibit towns and counties from spending money on or issuing photo IDs. It would also prohibit using city or village ID cards to vote or obtain public benefits, like food stamps.

Opponents call the bill anti-immigrant and say it’s aimed at Milwaukee plans to issue local IDs to assist with everyday tasks like opening a bank account. The bill’s supporters say it will reduce confusion and fraud.

The Senate passed the bill 19-13 Feb. 16. The Assembly followed suit hours later, approving the measure 62-35. It goes next to Gov. Scott Walker.

Bring it — to the ballot box

State election officials say “bring it” to the ballot box.

They mean your photo ID.

We say “bring it.”

And we mean your right, your vote, your democratic power.

Voting in the 2016 election cycle began this month, with much attention to the caucuses in Iowa and the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Of course at WiG we’re as interested in — and vested in — the presidential race as you. But we also want to emphasize the importance of state and local elections and the role of each citizen in the democratic process.

Regardless of which party holds your allegiance or who you support on the ballot, pocket your photo ID and “bring it” to the polls on Feb. 16 to cast your choice in the Wisconsin primary, to be followed by the presidential preference primary, the spring election and the general election.

This is no endorsement of the photo ID law that the GOP enacted at the bidding of a right-wing movement to minimize the influence of voters who traditionally vote for  the Democratic Party. Like you, we wanted to see this discriminatory measure overturned by the courts. We still want to see the law repealed.

But, to get there, we must “bring it.”

We must abide by the photo ID law so we can elect those who support voting rights for all and oust those who advocate for a government that just serves them and their well-funded special interests.

We know there’s confusion among voters about whether a photo ID is needed to vote and which IDs are acceptable. We found this guidance from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, the ACLU of Wisconsin and Common Cause.

ACCEPTABLE IDS: Include a Wisconsin driver’s license, a state ID card, a tribal ID card, an unexpired receipt for a driver’s license or state ID, a certificate of naturalization issued within the past two years, a U.S. military photo ID, a U.S. passport or a college photo ID card from a state-accredited college that contains an expiration date and signature.

WHAT IF THE ADDRESS ISN’T CURRENT ON THE ID? An acceptable photo ID does not have to include a current address.

THE NAME ISN’T AN EXACT MATCH: The name on a photo ID need not exactly match the name used to vote. For example, an ID that says “Sue Doe” can be used by registered voter “Susan Doe.” However, a person who’s legally changed his or her name must present an ID with the new name.

NO PHOTO ID: A resident can get a free voter photo ID from the local Division of Motor Vehicles by providing a Social Security number as well as an original document (birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, certificate of naturalization, Social Security card, military discharge papers, utility bills, pay stubs, insurance policies, mortgage papers, court order for adoption, divorce, name or gender change) containing the person’s name, date of birth, identity, proof of U.S. citizenship and residency. 

LACKING REQUIRED DOCS FOR ID: Complete a short form at the DMV stating that the documents needed to prove U.S. citizenship, name and date of birth are unavailable and require a fee to obtain.

PROVISIONAL BALLOT: If you get to the polls and don’t have a photo ID, don’t leave without voting. Voters have the right to request a provisional ballot and to show an ID by the end of the week.

Got it?

Now, “bring it.” 

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Wisconsin officials scramble to implement voter ID law

Wisconsin election officials were scrambling on Sept. 15 to deal with a federal appeals court’s ruling reinstating the requirement that voters show photo identification when casting ballots.

The law had been on hold, after being in effect only for the low-turnout February 2012 primary, following a series of court orders blocking it. But a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, just hours after hearing oral arguments, said late on Sept. 12 that the state could proceed with implementing the law while it weighs the merits of the case.

The decision came after a federal judge’ ruling in April struck down the law as an unconstitutional burden on poor and minority voters who may lack the required identification.

The biggest immediate issue is what to do about more than 11,800 absentee ballots that have already been requested, and perhaps returned, without the voter showing the required identification, Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney said Monday.

The law requires people to submit photocopies of their IDs when requesting absentee ballots by mail, something that those who made their requests before Friday’s ruling didn’t have to do.

In Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, about 8,000 absentee ballots were requested but have not yet been mailed to voters, said Neil Albrecht, who’s in charge of elections there. Under the law, they have to be sent by Thursday, he said.

“We’re all in a holding pattern right now waiting for clarification,” Albrecht said.

The story is much the same in Green Bay, where about 1,500 requested absentee ballots are sitting in the mailroom, said city clerk Kris Teske.

Magney said elections officials are discussing what steps to take and will release more information soon. One issue being discussed is what clerks need to do to communicate with voters with absentee ballots, Magney said.

The Government Accountability Board told clerks on Sept. 12 not to mail out any more absentee forms until it gets instructions about what forms to send so voters comply with the law.

The board has already posted information on its website about the law, including the types of IDs that will be acceptable at the polls on Nov. 4. Military and permanent overseas voters are exempt from the requirement.

A total of 34 states have passed conservative laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls and 32 of those were in force as of Sept. 12 according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin would be among nine states with the strictest photo ID laws, the group said.

The federal appeals court ruling, less than two months before the election, sent shockwaves through the state, with Democrats decrying that it will lead to disenfranchising of voters and Republicans saying it would help ensure the system’s integrity.

It’s become an issue in the tight governor’s race. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who signed the requirement into law, is being challenged by Democrat Mary Burke, an opponent of voter ID.

While Walker praised the ruling, Burke’s team launched fundraising pleas warning that Republicans would use it to tamp down the vote.

“Scott Walker knows that we can win, and he believes that efforts to keep voters from getting to the polls is a win for Republicans,” Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki said in a fundraising email late Friday.

Zepecki said that Burke, if elected governor, would work to repeal the photo ID requirement and expand early voting hours after Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature limited them.

Walker has said the ruling gives voters confidence in the electoral system and makes it harder to cheat, although repeated studies show that cheating by voters has not been a problem in Wisconsin elections.



Texas voter ID law goes on trial

A U.S. District Court will hear oral arguments starting Sept. 2 on Texas’s photo ID law.

The trial will include arguments from the Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, who will present evidence that the state’s ID requirement erects discriminatory barriers to voting.

“As we all know, Texas has a voter identification law that has already been ruled to be discriminatory by a bi-partisan three-judge panel in Washington D.C., but it insists on implementing it anyway,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the NAACP Texas State Conference. “This law is designed and intended not to counteract nearly non-existent voter fraud, but instead to disenfranchise minority voters and to prevent them from achieving political power. The Legislature chose to enact an extreme law instead of one where minorities who are indeed eligible have a realistic chance to vote and have their votes counted.”

Texas is one of seven states with a major ongoing lawsuit challenging voter restrictions ahead of the 2014 election. And since the 2010 election, new restrictions were put into place in 22 states.

The Texas NAACP and MALC argument is that the photo ID law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it makes it harder for hundreds of thousands of minority citizens to vote and denies minority voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

The photo ID law also violates the U.S. Constitution, these groups contend, because it burdens the fundamental right to vote and was enacted specifically to exclude minority voters.

Some facts in a news release from the Brennan Center for Justice:

• 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of government-issued photo ID that will be accepted under the new law.

• More than half a million eligible Hispanic voters and about 180,000 eligible black voters lack photo ID.

• Hispanic voters are 2.4 times more likely than white voters to lack an accepted ID. Black voters are 1.8 times more likely than white voters to lack ID.

• One in five eligible voters who earn less than $20,000 does not have accepted form of ID.

• Minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to face impediments to obtaining photo ID, including lost wages, access to transportation, health problems and a lack of accurate underlying documentation.

The civic groups challenged the law last September. That case and others were consolidated with Veasey v. Perry, and arguments are expected to last for the next three weeks.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. Unfortunately, we continue to find ourselves in federal court defending this most basic right against Texas’ leadership,” said Trey Martinez Fischer, Chairman of MALC. “Multiple courts have ruled that Texas has expressed a pattern of discrimination toward its growing minority demographic — from its cumbersome voter identification requirements to its penchant for drawing intentionally discriminatory legislative maps — and I hope and expect that the courts will once again side with Texas voters over hyper-partisan lawmakers.”

PSAs advise on protecting transgender Americans’ voting rights on Election Day

The National Center for Transgender Equality and GLAAD have released a series of public service announcements advising on how transgender Americans can protect their right to vote on Election Day.

The urgency of the PSAs is linked to new and stricter voter identification laws in some states.

The announcements feature NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, writer and advocate Janet Mock, actress Laverne Cox, performance artist Ignacio Rivera, Charles Meins and poet Kit Yan. They are part of a nationwide “Voting While Trans” campaign to raise awareness about the impact the photo ID laws may have on thousands of transgender Americans this November. 

“New voter ID laws have created costly barriers to voting for many trans people,” said NCTE executive director Mara Keisling. “And much worse, the debate about voter ID laws have made even the idea of voting harder so many of us may feel discouraged from even trying to vote on election day. Our message is don’t let them scare you into giving up your vote.”

NCTE says that getting accurate identification is an old challenge for many transgender people. Some states have addressed the problem by modernizing laws on updating driver’s licenses.

But passage of dozens of new voter ID laws and strict photo ID requirements likely will create barriers for transgender voters at the polls. The Williams Institute at UCLA estimates that as many as than 25,000 transgender people could lose their right to vote as a result of revised photo ID laws.

“Every day, countless transgender Americans face challenges trying to secure IDs that reflect their true identity, and as a result, experience hardships in fundamental freedoms including the right to vote,” said GLAAD president Herndon Graddick. “We all deserve to make sure our voice is heard. These new strict-photo ID laws will adversely impact thousands of already disenfranchised Americans, many of whom are transgender people of color, who may also be low income, elderly or have a disability.”

GLAAD and NCTE urge transgender people to verify whether their voter registration information matches the name and address on their identification and to consult NCTE’s “Voting While Trans” resources to find out how to protect their rights at the polling place.

On the Web…

Watch the PSAs at www.votingwhiletrans.org.