The Senate voted to put the Voter ID bill beyond the amendable stage Thursday, but was unable to move it to final passage without the missing Democratic senators.
Designed to combat fraudulent voter activity in Wisconsin, the bill would require voters to produce designated forms of identification prior to casting their vote. Acceptable forms include a driver’s license, state identification card or birth certificate.
The amended version allowed for the use of passports and tribal IDs while extending residency requirements for new Wisconsin voters to 28 days, according to an amendment authored by Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan.
“We are working to restore confidence across Wisconsin in the election process,” Sen. Leibham said. He added the request for the presentation of an ID to vote is simple and reasonable.
Senators voted to put the bill in a stage where it could not be amended anymore. The bill was not moved to final passage because it has a fiscal effect, requiring at least one Democratic senator to be present to make quorum.
The fiscal components would have a large effect on Wisconsin taxpayer, as the cost of implementing the bill could run into the millions. The costs incurred by taxpayers are estimated from $2.5 million to $10 million with regard to administrative and educational costs, Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, said.
Costs come from having to provide free IDs to people who cannot afford them, a necessary service or the bill would be unconstitutional, Heck said.
Republicans could have removed provisions requiring the state to incur costs from free ID distribution, Heck said, but chose to move the bill past the amendable stage and urged the Democrats to return.
“At this point, the bill is all but passed,” Heck said. “When the Democrats come back to Wisconsin, it doesn’t matter whether or not they vote for it; it will pass easily.”
With 14 Democratic senators still missing, quorum was unable to be established, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, continued to call on the Democratic senators to return to Wisconsin and faithfully represent their constituencies.
“Where is the minority party? Why are they not participating? Why are they tearing apart the Senate rulebook”? Fitzgerald said. “In the majority party’s caucus, it was very important for us to continue to move forward on legislation. Yet the minority party is not here and is not delivering a voice for those that are opposed or those that are in favor of this piece of legislation.”
State Troopers visited several of the missing senators’ homes Thursday morning in an effort to get them to come back and do their jobs, according to Andrew Wellhouse, spokesperson for Fitzgerald.
In a press conference Thursday evening, Fitzgerald said the call on State Troopers to compel the Democratic senators to return to Wisconsin has not been lifted, and further action will be determined Friday.