The proposed voter ID bill making its way through the state legislature will disenfranchise an untold number of rural citizens without a readily accessible Department of Motor Vehicles service center.
As currently written, SB 6 requires a voter to present either a state issued driver license or ID card, or a military ID at the polls in order to vote. The state issued forms of identification are available only at DMV service centers. Currently three Wisconsin counties lack any DMV service center, and many of the rural centers are open only a few days per month.
During the last state budget session, both the Tomah and Black River Falls DMV service centers were cut from the budget. State Rep. Mark Radcliffe worked to restore funding for the centers, but there is no guarantee they will make it through future cuts. If the nearest service center for a citizen is 50 miles away, how will they get there when they already lack a driver license? Public transportation? Ha!
The director of the Government Accountability Board recommends changes to SB 6 to allow passports and college IDs to be used, but that probably won’t help a resident of Bear Bluff or Hatfield.
The bill also requires a photocopy of ID be included with absentee ballots mailed in, disenfranchising all homebound citizens without access to a copy machine. GAB director Kennedy wisely calls for that provision to be removed as well.
Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. Mass voter fraud simply does not exist. Moving this debate beyond the traditional “demographic groups more likely to vote Democrat will be most affected by voter ID,” this bill will impede citizens of all political affiliations to exercise a fundamental right. And that is wrong.