Following reports that staff at multiple DMV service centers gave out wrong or incomplete information about obtaining a photo ID for voting, the state Department of Transportation is putting new staff training requirements in place.
Voting rights advocates told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that staff at seven DMV offices did not provide accurate information about the process for seeking a qualifying ID to vote while missing key documents, such as a birth certificate. In some cases, individuals inquiring about the process were reportedly told it could take much longer than it actually should or were discouraged from trying.
Appearing before a legislative committee on Tuesday, DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb told lawmakers that the reports are something the agency is taking seriously. He noted that a full investigation has been launched, as ordered by a federal judge last week, which will be completed by Friday.
Gottlieb said the DOT is already taking steps to make sure those seeking a photo ID for voting are getting accurate information. Those efforts include new mandatory online training for DMV staff, requiring supervisors to have one-on-one conversations with all field employees about the process, and providing additional information to members of the public who are seeking a valid ID for voting purposes.
Democrats on the panel expressed some skepticism though, with some lawmakers arguing ongoing problems are a sign that a controversial law that requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls should be suspended befor the November election. State Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) questioned how the public could have confidence in the DMV, given recent media reports. Gottlieb defended the agency, saying that he believes “the process is a sound process, that will…certainly not disenfranchise any voter.”
Spreitzer and other Democrats on the Legislature’s Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules made an unsuccessful push to call for a special legislative session to repeal the state’s Voter ID law. The committee did sign off on a motion to extend an emergency rule that covers the process for issuing special IDs to those who need them for voting.