When Wisconsinites flock to the polls on November 6 to participate in one of the most important election in recent years they will not need to present government issued photo identification. The state’s nonpartisan election agency hopes it stays that way.
Government Accountability Board Public Information Officer Reid Magney said he is concerned there would not be enough time to educate voters and poll workers if the Wisconsin Supreme Court votes to implement the controversial Voter ID law, which would require voters to present a valid ID at polling places, before November.
The Republican-backed legislation passed along party lines in early 2011 and was in effect for February primary elections.
But two Dane County judges ruled the law unconstitutional this spring, indefinitely blocking it. If the Supreme Court votes to repeal the injunction, the rule would be in place for the Presidential, U.S. Senate, congressional and state legislative elections in November.
The GAB is concerned about ensuring a seamless election if the law is passed between now and the election, according to Magney.
“While we are prepared to implement photo ID before the election if a court orders us to do so, we also want to be sure that voters are prepared as well,” said Magney. “We have laid a foundation of training for clerks and poll workers, but we cannot just flip a switch and have everything working perfectly right away.”
After the law passed earlier this year, the GAB initiated an ad campaign to educate voters about the change, but after the law was blocked suspended the campaign.
Democrats have argued the law would unconstitutionally prevent mostly poor, young and minority voters from participating in elections while Republicans say the law will put an end to voter fraud and ensure the integrity of the election process. It is estimated that as many as 11 percent of American citizens do not have government issued photo identification.
In August, Attorney General JB Van Hollen, who supports the law, asked the Court to quickly make a decision so it could be in place for the November elections.
“People in this state are very frustrated that a common sense law enacted by the Legislature and signed by the governor has been blocked,” Van Hollen said in a statement.