Wisconsin governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill that will require photo identification to be shown at the polls. Although poll workers will be required to begin asking for photo IDs at the state Senate recall elections in July, voters will not have to present them in order to cast their ballots until the presidential primary of spring 2012.
With the passage of the law, Wisconsin joins 11 other states with photo ID verification
requirements, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and South Carolina, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Four other states request photo IDs but allow votes to be cast without them. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver's license, state, military or tribal ID, passport or naturalization certificates. Additionally, voters will be required to sign poll books after they cast their ballots. Those who do not provide photo ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted only if they produce the necessary identification to an election clerk by the Friday that follows the election. Exemptions apply to nursing and retirement home residents, victims of stalking and those who oppose having their photo taken for religious reasons, according to the Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel. The measure, which will cost $7.5 million to execute in its entirety, may face legal challenges due to restricted access to state offices that issue driver's licenses. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's photo ID law in 2008, Indiana's Division of Motor Vehicles offices are more widespread than those in Wisconsin, and many are open on weekends, according to the Journal-Sentinel. Opponents argue this may make it difficult for some people to obtain photo ID. Democrats are opposed to the bill for a different reason, claiming that it will discourage people from certain demographics from voting. "Republicans knew that it would most impact the elderly, students, shut-ins, African-Americans, Latinos and other groups that tend to vote Democratic," said the state's Democratic Party chairman, Mike Tate, at the bill signing, as quoted by the State Journal. "They have limited rights rather than expanding them." The new law also makes changes to residency requirements that will go into effect immediately. Previously, voters were required to live at their current address for 10 days. This has been increased to 28 days under the new legislation.