The Wisconsin Senate stopped short of a final vote Thursday on legislation which would require citizens show photo identification on order to exercise their right to vote in Wisconsin elections. Senator Joe Liebham said removing the fiscal aspect of the bill to allow a vote without Democrats present would have raised a constitutional issue – creating a poll tax. “In the bill is the requirement that you need to have an ID, and if we removed the fiscal aspect of providing free IDs it could have opened up that question of not allowing individuals to get free IDs, therefore creating a poll tax,” said the Sheboygan Republican.
The bill has been amended to include passports, photo ID issued by tribal governments, and naturalization papers as acceptable forms of identification. The requirement to show ID at polling places would go into effect next January. Liebham said voters will be asked to show identification in the April election, and if they can’t provide it they’ll be allowed to vote. They’ll also be given information to prepare them for the requirement next year. Voters would also be expected to sign the voter roll each time they vote. Liebham said the cost of the bill, primarily for issuing free ID to those who cannot afford it, should be about one to one and a-half million dollars.