Tensions ran high Thursday at the Capitol over a potential constitutional amendment that would require photo IDs for voting.
Senate Democrats thwarted members of the Republican minority for the second time in a week as Sen. Joseph Leibham, R-Sheboygan, tried to bring the bill to the floor and failed to get the votes to do so.
A morning press conference turned into a public confrontation, as some Senate Republicans, pushing for a vote on the measure, clashed with a few Democrats.
According to Michael Pyritz, spokesperson for Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, the Republicans are pushing action on the amendment in part because of a report last week from Milwaukee police on widespread voting inconsistencies during the 2004 election.
Requiring photo IDs was one recommendation the report offered to address some of the problems.
�It would tend to disenfranchise people who might be in nursing homes and wouldn�t be able to get the identification the state requires, people who don�t have driver�s licenses and people who don�t have the expertise to follow the necessary rules about the residence from which they�re allowed to vote,� Risser said.
He added the requirement might be especially problematic for students in Madison.
�The law only requires that people be residents for 10 days, which is why students can often vote here,� Risser said, adding the current system allows proof of residence that includes lists of students in the University of Wisconsin residence halls or rent receipts.
The Milwaukee report spurring a push for the amendment cited instances in the 2004 presidential election of absentee ballots not counted, people from outside Milwaukee being allowed to vote there and ballots cast by convicted felons, who are not allowed to vote.
It also found a gap in one ward made up almost entirely of a UW-Milwaukee residence hall. The report showed 2,101 ballots cast in the ward, but only 1,887 people recorded as voting.
According to Pyritz, Senate approval would be the last step for the measure to go to the voters for a referendum.
�It would very likely be on the November ballot, which would likely be the highest turnout we�ve ever seen,� Pyritz said.
According to Risser, however, a full vote in the Senate is unlikely.
�The bill is not going to pass the Senate,� he said. �In my opinion, the idea of forcing the identification is not going to be acted upon or approved in the remaining time the Legislature is in session.�
Proponents of the bill are back to square one if it does not pass by next Thursday, the last day of the current legislative session.