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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Wisconsin voter ID law has fluctuated over the past few years. Currently an ID is required to vote.

Letter to the editor: Wisconsin voter ID bars student voting

Whether or not certain Wisconsinites have the right to vote has been unclear ever since Voter ID laws were put in place for the first time more than four years ago. From then on, the laws have been in flux, with voter ID requirements being proven unconstitutional by a Dane County Circuit Court judge, then reinstated by a federal appeals court, then blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, and finally reestablished as state law this past spring.

So here we are. Voter ID is the law of the land and will be required for everyone who wishes to vote in the Presidential primaries this April 6th. UW Students that have a Wisconsin Driver’s license or ID, regardless of whether it has their current address, can use it to vote. But if you are an out-of-state student or an in-state student without a Wisconsin ID, you are almost entirely dependent on the University to provide you with an ID to vote.

In all of our wallets and lanyards (hi freshmen) we already have an ID that has our picture and name on it. The state, however, requires that these IDs have the signature of the card-holder and an expiration date that is not more than two years after the issuing date in order for the ID to be used to vote. If you look at your Wiscard, both of these things are not present.

One would think the University would see this problem and reform our Wiscards to be compliant with Voter ID, as one of the main goals of UW is to produce civically engaged, socially aware members of society. Yet there is no plan, and our administration is saying that it would be too expensive to reissue new IDs to students every two years.

Faced with the obvious crisis of students being disenfranchised, the UW-Madison College Democrats and College Republicans worked together to come up with a solution. We agreed that the easiest option would be adding two stickers to the cards, one for the signature and one for the expiration date. This is the most simple fix because it preserves the ID template we already have, alleviating the administration’s concerns about distribution.

Another possible reform is putting the signature line back on all Wiscards. Much like a credit card, our student IDs used to have these strips, but it was taken off several years ago. Our administration will not consider this common sense solution saying that it makes us more vulnerable to identity theft. This is perplexing, as we all know our credit/debit cards and our driver’s licenses display our signatures, and these IDs are generally much more valuable and harder to replace than our Wiscards.

They argue that a better alternative is issuing separate IDs only available at Union South during business hours, i.e., not on the weekend or past 5 PM. This measure makes voting highly inaccessible to the thousands of students who might not have time between classes, work, and extracurriculars to go to the far end of campus just to acquire a secondary ID.

University administrations across the state are taking note that the largest university is refusing to make Voter IDs a priority and are following suite. At UW-Eau Claire, due to a technical glitch their university is refusing to fix, students must print out proof of enrollment if they wish to get an ID, and they haven’t even announced when they will start printing Voter IDs.

We may not be happy that Voter ID is the law of the land, but it is up to our administration to make Voter IDs, and the voting process as a whole, accessible to all students.

Chet is a junior studying political science. He currently is the Vice Chair of UW Madison College Democrats. Do you agree with the opinion of college Democrats? Do you disagree? Please send all questions, comments and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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