The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Student IDs eligible for use in elections

A new policy adopted Monday by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (WGAB) now allows area colleges and universities to put a sticker on student ID cards for voting in elections.

The change comes after the May passage of a voter ID law requiring state voters to present a valid driver’s license, state ID card, passport or military ID card in order to vote.

Supporters said the law, which takes effect next year, was a step toward reducing voter fraud.

The WGAB is a committee in charge of overseeing Wisconsin’s campaign finance, elections, ethics and lobbying laws. Calls to the group were not returned.

According to the resolution adopted Monday, the board realized the original requirements for a student ID to be used as voter identification were met by virtually none of Wisconsin’s colleges or universities.

Under the new policy, IDs with stickers bearing a university logo, issuance date, student’s signature and an expiration date can be presented with proof of enrollment for elections.

Student IDs must be from an accredited college or university offering an associates degree or higher. The sticker policy does not include technical college students, who will not be able to use a modified student ID.

Rana Altenburg, vice president of public affairs at Marquette, said in an e-mail she was pleased with the additional guidance provided by the board.

Altenburg said Marquette officials “are working with university departments and (Marquette Student Government) to review options for ways to implement and comply with the new law.”

According to Michael Pyritz, a legislative aid to Rep. Jeff Stone (R – Greendale), the change has been in the works for some time. Stone was a lead author of the photo ID bill, and Pyritz worked closely with the original legislation for a little more than eight years, he said.

Controversy surrounding the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and state IDs emerged last Wednesday when an internal memo was released telling Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees to only inform the public they are eligible for free photo IDs for the purpose of voting if the customer asked. Normally the charge for a state ID is $28.

The memo, written by Steven Krieser, executive assistant of the transportation department, said, “While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it.”

As of last Wednesday, DMV locations began displaying signs about free IDs for voters, which are offered in order to avoid the new law being labeled as a poll tax.

The memo has since been met with a wave of both criticism and defense, with some state leaders saying it takes advantage of people who weren’t aware of the law.

Pyritz said Monday the criticism has been overblown, and compared the memo to the Department of Natural Resources asking each person who applies for a fishing license if they know what an invasive species is.

“It’s ridiculous,” Pyritz said.

Among those leaders concerned about the memo is Rep. Evan Wynn (R-Whitewater). Wynn wrote a letter to State Secretary Mark Gottlieb on Sept. 8, and called the memo “concerning, to say the least.”

“Providing free identification to those who seek to vote is the very foundation of the premise of ‘Voter ID,” Wynn wrote. “Placing unnecessary barriers undermines our elections and undermines the intent of the law.”

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