Wisconsin Needs Voter ID

In 2011, Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature achieved a major victory for the integrity of our state’s elections by passing Wisconsin Act 23, a common sense measure requiring voters to verify their identity at the polls on Election Day by providing a photo ID. Liberal opponents moved quickly to block the legislation, using an activist court to stall the law in the legal system. Since then, the fight over the legislation has risen through the courts up to the national level where Wisconsin joins a number of other states in the continued fight to protect the integrity of the vote. Despite these various court challenges, voter ID will still be in place for Wisconsin’s November elections.

Some, however, have attempted to capitalize on the turmoil caused by this barrage of legal challenges from leftwing groups. From the national level downward, opponents of voter ID have cited ongoing legal battles as a reason to abandon attempts to keep identification requirements in place. A recent letter to the editor in the Daily Citizen joined this chorus, arguing that Voter ID was a waste of money for Wisconsin, and contending that voter fraud is not a problem that our state faces.

This is a routine argument from voter ID opponents, and one that has been refuted time and time again. A cursory search of local news stories demonstrates that Wisconsin is far from immune to attempts of voter fraud. WKOW reported that the Brown County clerk's office investigated 6 cases of voter fraud in April’s primary election. The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune reported in August that a Dexter man faced voting fraud charges for voting twice. A 2013 Media Trackers article reported that documents detailed 65 charges of election fraud filed in Milwaukee since 2008.  A 2013 Journal Sentinel article reports that a Milwaukee man plead guilty to five counts of voter fraud.  Local and national news outlets covered the story of a Shorewood man who was charged in 2014 with 13 felony counts of illegal voting.

Last year, local media reported on a 51-year-old Horicon man who faced felony charges of election fraud after allegedly voting in two polling locations. This instance was only discovered after a town of Beaver Dam clerk attempted to register another voter with the same residence and then noticed the discrepancy. According to court records, the defendant was later found guilty after entering a plea of no contest. Oddly, no local paper reported on that. How many similar cases go undetected and unreported?

Despite arguments from leftwing opponents, the simple requirement to provide a form of identification is hardly an onerous one. As Americans, we are regularly required to provide a photo ID for countless everyday tasks: driving a car, cashing a check, purchasing alcohol or tobacco, applying for government assistance, opening a bank account, applying for a job, picking up a prescription, or even purchasing cold medication—the list goes on.  Very few of these ordinary actions are as important for Americans as exercising our right to vote, and even one fraudulent ballot cast lessens the value of each citizen’s legitimate contribution.

I am confident that the protracted legal battle over voter identification requirements will prove what my Republican colleagues and I have long argued: this is a constitutional and common sense measure which will protect the integrity of elections in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

A valid photo identification will be required in the upcoming November election. To learn more, visit: http://www.bringitwisconsin.com/

 Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) represents the 13th Senate District, which covers portions of Dodge, Jefferson, Waukesha, Washington, Dane, and Columbia counties.