Showing valid photo identification is required to purchase alcohol, cough medicine and to withdraw money from a bank. Now a new Wisconsin law will require voters to show their photo ID on Election Day. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the controversial legislation — Assembly Bill 7 – into law Wednesday, May 25, 2011. AB7 requires photo identification at the polls and increases residency requirements. The law ends straight ticket voting and strengthens absentee voter regulation. This voter ID law has been on and off the table of the legislature for nearly 10 years and consistently backed by Walker from the beginning. The law requires that anyone voting in a particular district must have resided in that district for 28 days. Prior to the passage of this law, living in a particular district for 10 days was sufficient to vote in that district.
The bill’s opponents liken the new law to a poll tax, claiming the Republicans knew the law would affect the elderly, students, and minorities all of whom typically vote Democratic. However, citizens living in nursing or retirement homes and institutions are exempt from the law, as are victims of stalking and those who object for religious purposes.
Republicans celebrate this new law as a long overdue protection against voter fraud. Supporters of the law see it as a common sense approach to avoid potential voting irregularities and fraud.
While some provisions of the law go into effect before next year, the photo identification portion of the law will not go into effect until 2012.
This post was authored by Hamilton Consulting Group’s intern Lane Oling, a 2L at the University of Wisconsin Law School.