Republican legislation requiring voter ID passed a state Assembly committee on Tuesday. The Assembly Election and Campaign Reform Committee acted on the bill, with Democrats complaining that they hadn’t had a chance to look at a lengthy amendment. Representative Kelda Helen Roys noted the amendment allows student ID cards. But the devil is in the details. “I’m not aware of any ID in the state of Wisconsin, at any university or technical college or even private college, and certainly high school, that would meet the requirements as set forth in the substitute amendment,” said the Madison Democrat.
Student IDs “don’t have a signature, they only have a picture and a name,” said the bill’s co-author, Representative Jeff Stone. “I think we’ve got to talk a little more about what information could be placed on there, and what’s reasonable to ask the universities to accomplish.” The bill passed on a 5-3 party line vote. Stone says there’s an expectation that the Assembly will vote on the measure by May 10th. The state Senate has already passed its own version of voter ID and it’s certain Governor Scott Walker will sign the finished product.
“We’re trying to basically reform a system which isn’t broken, and that just really disturbs me,” said Representative Fred Kessler. “We’re doing it because of 20 cases out of 270 million people who vote.” But Hartford Republican Don Pridemore, one of the bill’s sponsors, said voter fraud is more widespread, but difficult to prove. “Many of the cases of voter fraud that I’ve witnessed myself and that other colleagues, poll observers have witnessed, leads us to this point,” said Pridemore. “We want valid, accurate elections. We don’t want fraud to enter the picture; we don’t want peoples ballots disenfranchised, regardless of where you live.”
The third Democrat in the committee, Milwaukee Representative JoCasta Zamarippa, told Republicans that voter ID legislation will disenfranchise many minority, elderly and youth voters in Wisconsin. “I want to remind that in November, the election of 2010, you won under this quality election system. You’re in the majority. Governor Walker was elected under this quality election system that we have in Wisconsin.” But Chippewa County Republican Kathy Bernier said the bill provides needed safeguards. “I don’t know how much voter fraud needs to be there in order to have a little stricter checks and balances,” said Bernier, a former county clerk. “But there needs to be something other than just coming in and saying ‘my name is Sue Smith.'”