After nearly seven hours of debate, the state Assembly on Wednesday night passed a controversial bill requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. State Representative Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) says it will help prevent fraud at the ballot box, and sets a hurdle 95-percent of voters can already overcome.
Critics contend the measure will disenfranchise the poor, elderly, and students by making it harder for them to vote on Election Day. Assembly Democrats offered over 50 amendments to the bill during the debate, all of which were rejected by Republicans.
The legislation requires voters to show a state issued photo ID, military ID, passport, or naturalization papers at the polls. It does include provisions allowing for student IDs to be used, but critics contend no college in the state currently meets those requirements and that’s unlikely to change in the near future.
The bill also makes changes to residency requirements, requiring voters to live at their current address for 28 days before an election. Current law requires ten days.
State Representative Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) accused the GOP of pushing an agenda designed to limit the ability of Democrats to win elections in the future. He says such efforts are “outrageous” and warned they could backfire with voters.
Wausau Democrat Donna Seidel says claims of voter fraud are being exaggerated to ram the bill through. She called it a “fiction manufactured to persuade voters they should be afraid enough to allow suppression.”
State Representative Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) urged lawmakers to consider the impact the requirement could have on voters in rural areas, who sometimes have difficulty getting to DMV service centers because of reduced hours and locations.
The measure passed on a 60-35 vote. It now heads to the Senate, which could act on the bill next week.