After many students raised concerns Wisconsin college students would be negatively affected by voter ID legislation being debated in the Legislature, a substitute amendment was released Friday containing language that would include student IDs on the list of identification accepted by election polling staff.
The voter ID bill would require some form of photo identification to be shown to vote. The original bill did not include student IDs, but an amendment drafted by Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, and released the day after a public hearing on the voter ID bill, would change that.
Under the amendment, students IDs would be accepted as long as they have not expired and contain the date of birth, signature and current address of the person to whom it was issued. Current UW student IDs do not provide the current address of the cardholder and would not be valid for voter registration.
The change is welcomed by student representatives and advocates, who worried the voter ID bill would make it tougher for students to vote and eventually reduce the percentage of student-voter turnout.
“It’s absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Madison Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8.
Republicans had not shown any sign of including student IDs in the bill, but Resnick said there were a couple of things that could have changed their minds. The student population is transient, and requiring them to get updated identification from a Department of Motor Vehicles every time they move could make it harder for them to have their voices heard.
Resnick also said including student IDs meant the state would not have to rely on mobile DMVs taking time and resources in order to register those who cannot get to a DMV.
Legislative Affairs Chair Sam Polstein said he too was happy with the amendment allowing student IDs, but would have to begin conversations with the proper UW and UW System officials to see how reasonable placing students’ current addresses on their IDs would be.
He also said despite the inclusion of student IDs, the voter ID bill is still a troubling piece of legislation.
“This is definitely a victory, but at the same time it’s a cautious victory,” Polstein said. “Voter ID is not a good bill overall.”