In light of a Wisconsin law requiring an ID to vote, some organizations are looking for ways to make obtaining that ID easier.
Common Cause in Wisconsin, a non-partisan citizen’s lobby, sent a letter to Gov. Scott Walker Thursday, urging him to support a “Mobile DMV” program that would send vehicles throughout the state to provide residents with voter IDs.
Alabama, Virginia, Texas and Indiana have implemented similar motor vehicle distribution programs to make it easier for people to obtain IDs, Jay Heck, Common Cause in Wisconsin executive director, said.
Thirteen national and public organizations sent a similar letter to Wisconsin Department of Transportation June 30, 2015, suggesting mobile vans be used to distribute IDs. The DOT did not respond to the letter.
One potential drawback of such a program would be the cost, Michael Wagner, University of Wisconsin journalism and mass communication professor, said.
The DOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the feasibility of the voter ID distribution program.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said a voter ID distribution program would benefit those who do not have a driver’s license, the elderly and citizens in both urban and rural communities who do not have easy access to a DMV.
Heck said current DMV hours make it harder for people to obtain IDs, and the Legislature should provide funding to improve access to voter IDs.
“We are really among the worst states in the country in terms of even having access to department of motor vehicle offices,” Heck said.
Wagner, however, said another hurdle is there would have to be specific knowledge of areas in Wisconsin that have the most need.
There are 92 DMV centers in Wisconsin, only two of which are open after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and three that have limited Sunday hours, according to the letter. In towns such as Phillips and Wittenberg, the DMV centers are only open six days a year.
McDonell said many people still don’t realize voter IDs are required to vote, and that Wisconsin needs to do more to make voting easier.
“There isn’t even an outreach budget to tell people that you need an ID to vote, much less a mobile van or any other sort of distributed network of ID location,” McDonell said.
Students can currently receive free voter IDs from the Wiscard Office at Union South.