The state Legislature’s budget committee has approved a funding request to help election officials raise public awareness about Wisconsin’s voter ID law.
The Government Accountability Board had asked for $250,000 for an education campaign about the law, which is expected to include radio and TV advertising, along with online components like videos and social media content. It was approved Monday by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on a unanimous 15-0 vote.
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said the campaign will help address confusion among some voters about what’s required to obtain a ballot in Wisconsin, after some voters were caught off guard at polling places during the April 5th primary. “Fact of the matter is, people have been disenfranchised. Fact of the matter is somebody who could vote a couple of years ago can’t vote now,” he said. “So we have to spend money to make sure they understand how they are able to vote.”
Democrats on the committee heaped criticism on the law, which was passed by Republicans in 2011 but was placed on hold for several years because of ongoing legal challenges. Erpenbach and others repeated claims that the law is designed to suppress certain segments of the voting population, while Republicans maintained it’s about preventing voter fraud in elections.
JFC co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) said the issue isn’t always a partisan one though, with many constituents telling him they just want to protect the integrity of the vote. “Every person…should have the ability that their vote is counted and protected,” he said.