Voter Photo ID
Senate Bill 6/Assembly Bill 7
Updated: September 8, 2011
Senate Bill 6 and Assembly Bill 7 were introduced by Senator Leibham and Representative Stone, the same lead sponsors of voter ID bills in previous sessions. This proposal is modeled after Indiana's photo ID law that was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The bills would allow voters only to register to vote or cast a ballot with a valid Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) issued photo ID. Those without would cast a provisional ballot. The legislation includes a provision to allow issuing free identification to those who cannot afford it, but the elector specifically must request that they not be charged (opt-out of payment program). It would exempt those living in senior housing or nursing homes if an election official is sent to the facility. The Government Accountability Board will be required to run a public information campaign and institute the means to identify and contact electors who may need assistance in obtaining a government issued ID.
The lead sponsors of the bills have also announced plans to amend the state’s constitution to include voter photo ID.
SB 6 was introduced on January 14 and a public hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections on January 26. Senate Substitute Amendment 1 was introduced and passed by the committee on a vote of 3-0 on February 22 following initial publication of fiscal statements on February 9 and 16. Senate amendment 1 to Senate substitute amendment 1 adopted on February 24 on a 19-0 vote. Vote totals do not include Democrats, who were absent, including Senator Erpenbach whose committee vote via telephone was rejected by the chair. Legislative Council explains the amendments here.
Assembly Bill 7 had a public hearing by the Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform on April 27. The committee introduced and approved Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to AB 7 on May 3. The substitute amendment allows voters to use an ID card from an accredited public or private university or college in Wisconsin if the ID included a date of birth, address and signature, as well as continue to allow people to vote absentee for any reason. No such institution currently provides an ID with this information. See Legislative Council's explanation of changes. Legislative Fiscal Bureau notes that implementing ASA1 would cost more than $6 million over the next two years, with most of the cost going toward providing free state IDs to those who ask for them.
Joint Finance Committee met May 9 and voted 12 to 2 along party lines to pass an amended Assembly Substitute Amendment 2 to AB 7. The provision to address moving the date of the September Primary as well other elements to bring the state in compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act have been removed from this version and will be addressed in separate legislation. Additionally, an "emergency" measure was passed that would require citizens to reside in Wisconsin for at least 28 days instead of the current 10 days. It will be in effect in time for the July Recall elections.
ASA 2 was adopted and AB 7 passed as amended by the Assembly on a 60-35 vote on May 11, 2011. Senate voted 19-5 on May 19, 2011, to approve AB 7 with 8 Democrats refusing to vote. AB 7 was signed by the governer as WI Act 23 on May 24, 2011. The Joint Finance Committee voted along party-lines on the same day to help fund the $7.5 million needed to implement the program by pulling existing funds from the state election public financing programs.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit alleging that the law violates right to vote provisions of the state constitution not present in the U.S. Constitution.