In states where a photo identification is required to vote, Republican lawmakers have been able to avoid legal challenges to the rule by giving away free voter ID cards, thereby ducking the label of a “poll tax.”
But in Wisconsin, which recently passed one of the nation’s most restrictive voter ID laws, another roadblock exists: ignorance.
A leaked memo written by a high-ranking Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation official stipulates that DMV workers are not to offer the voter ID, leaving it to the patron to explicitly ask for the free ID, then fill out the proper paperwork.
“While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it,” Steve Krieser, executive secretary for the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, wrote to employees.
Signage which was supposed to notify DMV patrons of the new voting rules is also missing in action, still being designed, according to The Capital Times.
After passage of the voter ID law, Gov. Scott Walker (R), pictured above, called for the closure of as many as 16 DMV offices, mainly in Democratic-leaning areas. After intense public backlash, he reversed himself, expanding the DMV and adding operating hours in some offices to accommodate increased demand for ID cards — at a cost of $6 million over the previously allotted budget.
Democrats argue that voter ID laws are unnecessary due to a complete lack of evidence of any organized voter fraud scheme. They say it unfairly targets students, the poor and the elderly, who are more likely to not have a photo ID and also tend to support Democrats over Republicans.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.