State officials approved new ID cards some University of Wisconsin System campuses will issue students in light of the new voter ID law.
The Government Accountability Board’s decision Tuesday to approve new voter identification cards will have a large impact on students’ ability to vote in the upcoming spring elections.
GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said UW System schools have been submitting cards to the GAB for review, which the board has been approving for some time.
While the Madison and Milwaukee campuses are among the system schools that now have their IDs approved, the two-year colleges as well as UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls are still waiting on whether or not their voter ID cards will get governmental approval.
“The legislation said that student IDs are acceptable if they meet the requirements. Our understanding is that UW schools are taking steps to make changes so those IDs are acceptable,” Magney said.
The voter ID legislation mandates school IDs must have an issuance date, expire within two years and include the student’s signature.
Magney said the approvals are a result of the universities’ efforts to redesign secondary IDs to be used for voting purposes only.
The UW System has argued student IDs should be applicable for voting usage IDs, but many of the existing IDs did not comply with the new law’s stipulations.
“We are faced with only a couple of options. We can reissue IDs, which is very expensive, or we can work with the GAB to create voting-only IDs upon request,” UW System spokesperson David Giroux said.
He said IDs such as the ones at UW are “smart cards,” meaning they are used for food, libraries and other services. These IDs are very expensive to replace, Giroux said.
“Our position has been that civic engagement and participation is a key part of the college experience. We hope students can take the opportunity to learn to be active citizens and exercise their rights,” Giroux said.
The secondary IDs will be presented only upon request by students so they will not receive the new IDs unless they need them.
“All our campuses are involved in a variety of efforts to help students understand this law and what steps they need to go to be eligible to vote on election day. The ID card is part of that,” Giroux said.
Giroux said all IDs will be ready for students to use in time for the upcoming spring elections.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report.