First Election with New Voter ID Law Successful

According to the Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin’s first election where voters were required to show a photo ID went smoothly, with very few reported problems.

“Overall, we had a good experience with voter photo ID at the Spring Primary election,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, Wisconsin’s chief elections officer. “We were able to resolve the few issues that came up, and we will be following up with local election officials to avoid those issues in the Spring Election on April 3.”

Following are issues that arose during the election on Feb. 22, according to the GAB:

Poll workers too strict: The Board received a few reports of poll workers comparing the address on the voter’s ID card to the address on the poll list, which is not proper. “The purpose of showing an ID is to prove who you are, not where you live,” said Elections Division Administrator Nathaniel E. Robinson. “Registered voters have already proven residency when they registered.” In one case, a registered voter who went to vote after 7 p.m. was sent home by a poll worker to get a utility bill to prove her residency, even though she has a Wisconsin driver’s license but the address did not match the address on the poll list. She emailed the GAB Help Desk, and the staff immediately intervened on her behalf with the local clerk, so the woman was allowed to vote before the polling place closed at 8 p.m.

Poll workers too lax: The Board received a few reports of voters who were given a ballot without being asked to show a photo ID or sign the poll list. GAB contacted local clerks to have them correct the situation. In one case, staff learned the problem was isolated, resulting from the poll workers dealing with three voters at one time.

Veterans ID cards: The Board received a report of one voter who has a Wisconsin driver license, but insisted on using a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo identification card. In addition, the Help Desk received numerous telephone calls Tuesday from veterans who believe their VA cards should be acceptable. The law allows voting with a “military ID card issued by a U.S. uniformed service,” but the VA is not a military service.