Wisconsin’s reinstated voter ID law may be detrimental to democracy, forcing many backers of the Democratic Party, minorities and college-aged students, to go through further loopholes before receiving a ballot this November.
A federal appeals court in Chicago recently reinstated the law, which requires voters to present valid government-issued form of photo ID in order to vote. But because of some legal challenges, this requirement had not been enforced since the primary in February 2012.
Now, with the ruling that happened last week, the Government Accountability Board is taking every step to put the voter ID law into effect. This has numerous negative effects on Wisconsin poll workers and voters in the upcoming November election.
With the election less than two months away, it is going to be quite difficult for election officials and voters to understand the full extent of this law. There is definitely going to be confusion among the people involved with this election, and voter turnout will take a hit. With the implementation of the law, voters might decide not to vote because obtaining and showing an ID is an extra hassle in the process. Considering it is a non-presidential year, the voter turnout out will not be as high, and now with the implementation of this legislation by election officials, it will disenfranchise Wisconsin voters and harm our democracy.
Usually, minorities tend to vote for Democrats, and they are the group that will have the most difficult time obtaining proper ID. Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote 4.5 percent of African-Americans won’t be able to obtain the proper ID to vote.
With this law in effect, the college student turnout will also fall. Here at the University of Wisconsin we have a large population of out-of-state students and international students. Students not from Wisconsin will need to obtain the proper ID, but a majority of those students probably do not have the correct form of identification to vote. Enacting this voter ID law is disenfranchising minorities and college students, as well as the general population. Without that percentage of eligible voters, from the minority groups and the college-aged groups, the turnout in this upcoming election could be detrimental to the Democrats running for office this year.
Voter turnout for non-presidential years since 1950 is on average 17.5 percent less than in a presidential year. With the odds already stacking against this election, implementing and allowing this voter ID law in Wisconsin, and in the United States, is going to hurt the get out the vote effort – which nobody should want. One of the basic human rights of living in the United States is the ability to vote. By implementing the voter ID law, the government is infringing upon the rights of citizens.
Why would a law like this be implemented so close to Nov. 4? The other side is scared. The judges that were on the appeals court panel were Republican appointees. Because the Republicans are unsure if they can win, they created roadblocks for people who tend to vote Democrat (minorities, young people, etc.). But we are not going to let this stop us from voting! Even though there are new barriers to prevent certain groups from reaching the polls, we, the people of Wisconsin, need to educate other voters on this new law because we do not want people to be steered away from voting in this very important election. Nobody should be turned away from voting just because they do not have the proper form of identification.
If anyone is unsure if they have the proper identification to vote in the upcoming election, please check out the Government Accountability Board website because we need you to vote in November.
Autumn Linsmeier ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in political science.