September 19, 2014

Many Wisconsin student ID cards will not work for voting

File photo

File photo

Wisconsin’s Voter ID law does allow the use of qualifying student identification cards to obtain a ballot at the polls. However, very few campuses in the state are currently using card designs that comply with the requirements of the law.

According to the state Government Accountability Board, a valid student ID for voting must include the student’s name, signature, and photo. It must also feature an issuing and expiration date, which cannot be more than two years after the ID was issued, and students must present documentation at the polls proving they are currently enrolled.

GAB director Kevin Kennedy says student IDs “continue to be a challenge,” although he notes that many students already have other types of ID that are valid for voting, such as a Wisconsin-issued driver’s license or a passport. A state issued ID can still be used at the polls, even if the student’s address is not current. If they are registering to vote on Election Day, they will need to have other documentation proving their residency though, such as a lease or housing contract.

The University of Wisconsin System has been working to make sure students have what they need to vote in November. They System has put up a website outlining voting information for multiple campuses. The UW-Madison has also announced that it will begin issuing free ID cards to students who request them, which can be specifically used for voting.

Kennedy says the key is for students to know in advance what they are going to need at the polls. He says “just like you give a lot of thought to who you’re going to vote for, give a lot of thought to what it takes to get a ballot.”

Candidates for Wisconsin attorney general agree to debate

Susan Happ, Brad Schimel (Photo: WRN)

Susan Happ, Brad Schimel

The two major candidates for Attorney General in Wisconsin will meet in at least one debate before the November 4th election.

Republican Brad Schimel and Democrat Susan Happ have agreed to both attend a debate that will be held on the evening of October 24th. The debate, which will air statewide on TV and radio, is sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio and Television, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Schimel’s campaign says he had agreed to participate in at least four debates, and renewed a call on Thursday for Happ to participate in “more joint exchanges.” Happ’s campaign says they expect there will be more debates between the two, although those discussions are still underway.

Schimel is the Waukesha County district attorney, while Happ is the chief prosecutor in Jefferson County. The most recent Marquette University Law School poll shows the race between the two is a dead heat, although roughly 20 percent of registered voters still say they don’t know enough about either candidate to have an opinion about them.

The winner of the race replaces outgoing Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who is stepping down after eight years in office.

Wisconsin ranked 33rd in the nation for private sector job growth

Map UW-Madison

Map UW-Madison

New federal figures show Wisconsin ranked 33rd in the nation for private sector job growth during the 12 month period ending in March of this year. That’s according to new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show the state added 28,712 private sector jobs between March of 2013 and 2014.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson says the state’s private sector workforce grew at a faster rate than two neighboring Midwestern states – Minnesota and Illinois. Newson says that “means more opportunities for Wisconsin’s workforce and is in line with many other indicators showing our state’s economy continues to grow and add jobs.”

The numbers come from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, long argued by Governor Scott Walker to be the “gold standard” of measuring job creation in Wisconsin. They are based on a census of 96 percent of the nation’s employers.

Meanwhile, the state also announced that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in August, down from 5.8 percent in July and 6.7 percent in August of 2013. The rate is the lowest since October of 2008. The national unemployment rate is at 6.1 percent.

Group sues to have Wisconsin same-sex marriages recognized

Same-sex marriage being performed in Madison. (File photo: WRN)

Same-sex marriage being performed in Madison. (File photo: WRN)

A federal lawsuit filed in Madison this week seeks to settle the question of whether the almost 600 gay marriages performed in Wisconsin earlier this year should be legally recognized.

The marriage licenses were issued in early June, during the brief window after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb ruled Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. County clerks across the state began issuing licenses almost immediately after the ruling, although Crabb put a stay on the decision a week later while the state appealed. The new lawsuit seeks a legal declaration that the weddings performed during that time period are valid.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said they were not valid. At one point, he said prosecutors could criminally charge county clerks who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, although he backed off from those statements a short time later. The state Justice Department has not commented on the new lawsuit.

A federal appeals court recently affirmed Judge Crabb’s ruling. The state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make a final decision.

Race for Wisconsin governor remains a dead heat

Burke, Walker

Mary Burke, Scott Walker

With less than seven weeks to go before the election, the race for governor in Wisconsin remains a dead heat. According to the latest Marquette University Law School Poll released on Wednesday, Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke were tied 46-46 percent among registered voters in the state. Among likely voters, Walker held a slight lead at 49-46.

The poll of 800 registered voters and 589 likely voters was done by phone, between September 11th and 14th. The margin of error for the poll was between +/- 3.5 and 4.1 percent.

In the last Marquette poll released in August, Walker held a slight lead over Burke among registered voters, while Burke had the edge among likely voters. Poll director Charles Franklin says the slight shift is likely a result of Republicans becoming more enthused and engaged in recent weeks. He says those numbers will likely become more important as we draw closer to the November 4th election, noting that “Elections are about both candidate preference and turnout, changes in either can shift elections.”

The race for attorney general has also tightened up significantly. Democrat Susan Happ led Republican Brad Schimel 39-38 percent among registered voters, while Schimel leads 42-41 among likely voters.

Among other findings from the poll, voters continued to forgive Walker for only creating 40 percent of the 250,000 private sector jobs he promised. Only 29 percent of registered voters said reaching the goal was very important. The state’s financial picture is better than it was a few years ago, according to 41 percent of voters, while 27 percent said it was worse.

Voter ID continued to have strong support among voters, with 65 percent of respondents supporting a requirement for voters to show a government-issued photo ID card at the polls and 35 percent opposing the requirement. Franklin says those findings have been relatively consistent over the seven polls where the question has appeared since 2012. The latest poll was in the middle of being conducted when a federal court lifted an injunction blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement.