This election year Wisconsin voters have to deal with several new voting restrictions passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R).
The major change voters face is the requirement they must present a photo ID at their polling place on Election Day, early voting locations or when they request an absentee ballot. That law was passed in 2011, but this the first election it will be in effect after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law Sept. 11.
It is estimated that about 300,000 registered Wisconsin voters—mostly African American, Hispanic, students and young voters (18–24) and those older than 65—do not currently have the types of IDs the law requires.
Here are the types of IDs Wisconsin voters need:
- Wisconsin driver’s license or Department of Transportation-issued ID card (must be current or expired after Nov. 6, 2012, general election) [Suspended or revoked licenses are valid if they are in your possession.];
- Military or uniformed service ID card (NOT including a Veterans Identification Card issued by Veterans Affairs);
- U.S. Passport (must be current or expired after Nov. 6, 2012, general election);
- Certificate of naturalization issued on Nov. 4, 2012, or later;
- Tribal ID card issued by a federally recognized tribe in Wisconsin;
- College student ID card issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college that includes a photo, signature, issuance date and an expiration date no later than two years after the issuance date. Student ID must be presented with proof of current enrollment such as a tuition fee receipt or letter verifying enrollment;
- Unexpired receipt given after applying for Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card; and
- Ticket/citation from the past 60 days if you had to surrender your driver’s license.
If you do not have a valid photo ID, you can obtain a free ID for voting purposes. Click here. There is a petition process to waive fees that may arise in obtaining documents needed to apply for the free ID. Click here.
Other changes in Wisconsin voting laws included a reduction in early voting by reducing week night hours and eliminating weekend early voting. Proof of residency for voter registration also has changed. A photo ID is not required to register, but it is one of the acceptable forms of proof. Click here for the full list.
Also in-person voter registration at all locations except municipal clerks' offices closes Oct. 15. You may still register at you municipal clerk’s office through Oct. 31. Registration at the polls is available on Election Day.
But if you are a Wisconsin resident who has not registered to vote yet, there is an easy one-click method to get started. The AFL-CIO has teamed up with TurboVote to make voting easy for you and for your friends and family. Not only can you register or update your registration, but TurboVote will help you with absentee ballots, vote-by-mail information and finding your polling place.
You also can keep updated on how Wisconsin working families are mobilizing for the election on the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO blog.
Wisconsin is not alone in new restrictive voting laws. The Fair Elections Legal Network says that over the past two years, more than 30 states have introduced legislation or enacted laws that would curb voters’ access to voting. Find out more here.