New government restrictions on voters in Wisconsin have become law. Additional requirements for all eligible voters go into effect immediately; additionally proof of identification requirements will go into effect before the fall 2012 elections. Under the old rules, new voters must show proof of residence and show identification or offer the last four digits of their social security card number to register; the new law will require current Wisconsin state drivers license/ state identification card/ passport/ or military identification from every voter that goes to vote. 
 
I did not support this unfunded mandate to local governments which produced additional regulations on every voter in the state. Many people, just like me, have voted in the same polling place for nearly all of their lives. Requiring presentation of a state issued ID every time we vote is unnecessary. Anyone that votes can have their eligibility challenged at anytime by anyone at the polling place. People who attempt to vote under someone else’s name commit felony fraud and go to jail.
 
All along I have said this is a “fix” in search of a problem. After an exhaustive 2 year investigation by the Department of Justice into every alleged voter fraud case, only 11 improper voters were found in Wisconsin. Eight of them were felons who didn’t know any better. Only 3 people were found to have intentionally and deliberately broken the law; they were charged and suffer the legal consequences.
 
It is estimated by the AARP that 178,000 senior citizens in Wisconsin do not have a valid identification required under this bill. These people have voted all of their lives and simply do not deserve this hassle to vote.
 
This bill will cost the state over $5.7 million to fund; additionally local governments will need to raise taxes to pay for their increased responsibility. The job of poll workers has been turned into “sheriff of the polls” and I know my neighbors don’t want the hassle of helping out at the polls to determine if someone looks enough like their driver’s license to let them vote. To add insult to injury; after this unfunded mandate was passed some money was assigned by the Joint Committee on Finance to support the change – where did that money come from? The Wisconsin Clean Election Fund; Wisconsin’s state supported clean election system which gives out grants to ONLY those candidates that agree to strict spending limits.
 
The bottom line is that the authors of this bill could have achieved the same goal with less government regulation, less cost to taxpayers, and less hassle for poll workers. It is a shame that level of responsibility was not taken when crafting this bill. We can preserve and increase the integrity of elections without turning people away at the polls.
 
If you need help getting your free state ID card or have additional questions about this bill please contact my office at 888-549-0029 or 608-266-6670 or via email at sen.erpenbach@legis.wi.gov