Wisconsin government oversight officials are preparing to educate voters on new requirements at the polls before next year’s state elections bring the implementation of controversial voter ID laws.
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board plans to promote public awareness leading up to the enacting of the voter ID law next year, according to GAB spokesperson Reid Magney.
The voter ID law was signed by Gov. Scott Walker last spring. It will require all Wisconsin voters to present a valid, current state-issued identification card to poll attendants to be able to vote in any election.
To avoid confusion, the GAB is running an awareness campaign to inform voters of the law changes and remind them to bring their IDs to vote next year.
“Beginning in January, we are launching a multimedia ad campaign,” Magney said. “We will have TV ads, radio spots, a text message program, print ads, transit ads and billboards around the state.”
According to a memorandum for the GAB’s meeting Tuesday, the theme of the campaign is “Bring It to the Ballot” to remind those with a valid ID that it will become necessary to vote. The GAB will also focus on teaching those without an ID how to acquire a free state-issued one.
The ads will be used to attract people back to the campaign’s website, www.bringit.wisconsin.gov, or get them to call (866) VOTE-WIS for more information, according to a statement from the GAB.
“The ads are only 15 and 30 seconds apiece,” Magney said. “They will direct people back to [bringit.wisconsin.gov], which lets them know if their ID is acceptable, and if it isn’t, how to get a free one.”
The statement said the GAB has hired advertising firm Knupp & Watson & Wallman to develop the campaign.
State funds will also be used to develop and run the campaign, but the GAB is making partnerships to help lower the associated costs.
“For our media buys (television and radio), we have used the State of Wisconsin’s contract with Wisconsin Broadcasters Association to secure 28 weeks of broadcast media placement, … guaranteeing that public service announcements run statewide during unsold periods throughout the day,” the statement said.
However, given short notice, not all timeslots may be available from the WBA, in which case it may cost the state up to $250,000 to purchase airtime at market rates, the statement said.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also plans to help educate voters, DPW spokesperson Graeme Zielinski said.
“We’ll be out in the community checking to see if folks have IDs [and] letting them know the steps they have to take if they don’t have IDs. We just think everyone should be able to vote,” he said.
Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, also emphasized the importance of voting and of educating voters now before the law changes occur.
“There were a number of provisions, including financial resources, to educate people,” Welhouse said. “We should help people to comply with the law so everyone who can legally vote can do so.”