Voter ID not required, again for November elections

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

This column provided readers during the last five weeks with information about the importance of elections and voting.

It was intended to help voters during the upcoming fall election period, provide information or to send them to their local election town, village, or city clerk’s office for registering, voting location or other information.

With only about three weeks remaining before voters go to the polls, let me update everyone on some of the changes and actions that have taken place during these past few weeks. It would be fair to say it has been highly interesting.

When this column first ran the election information column on the week of September 9th, courts were reviewing the Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law and it was on hold and not required.

Although most people are registered to vote in their hometown district, those not registered needed to still do so and prove they lived in that voting district for at least 28 days.

The courts then came out with a ruling that the new Wisconsin Voter ID was again in place for the November 4th election and people would need to show an acceptable Voter ID to vote.

Problems quickly developed because some county clerks in Wisconsin already had sent out absentee ballots without requiring a copy of a valid Voter ID to be sent back, thus making those ballots unacceptable without providing a copy of a valid Voter ID. Some concern and panic began to develop.

In addition, it was estimated that upwards to 300,000 eligible Wisconsin residents were still without a required legal Voter ID.

Citizens again began the process of going to the Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Departments requesting a valid Voter ID along with requesting help in finding their Birth Certificates if that was an issue.

In addition, many if not most, Departments of Motor Vehicle Departments had limited office hours thus making it hard for working people to be able to find time to apply for a valid Voter ID. And, there were other issues and concerns that continued to develop. .

With this all going on and limited time available to handle the process for an orderly and fair election, the United State Supreme Court temporary blocked the Wisconsin Voter ID requirement for the fall November 4th election.

So, Wisconsin voters were back to where they started just a few weeks earlier. You still needed to be registered to vote if you had not but you would not be required to show a Voter ID to vote.

Although it has been shown that there is seldom illegal voting in Wisconsin (as reported by the county District Attorneys of the state), violating Wisconsin’s voter law could get a person into big trouble and jail time.

So, if anyone has doubt about a voting issue, they should call their local county, town, village or city clerk. Those governmental workers are well informed and will be glad and able to answer your questions.

Their goal is to insure you can your vote, make it easy, do it legally and at the correct location.

Then something very unusual took place. Five of the ten appeals court judges on Friday, October 10, just 14 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court decision to block the Wisconsin Voter ID law, “issued a blistering opinion calling allegations of voter impersonation fraud” a “mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control state government (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 - page 1).

That story went on to point out that one of the judges was Richard A. Posner of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Posner, it stated, is considered one of the most influential judges in the country on Voter ID. His writing, it was suggested, may influence the U.S. Supreme Court if it decides to review the Wisconsin’s Voter ID law.

Some seven years earlier, Posner wrote a legal opinion upholding Indiana’s law requiring identification at the polls as constitutional but now he was seriously questioning the political process taking place in Wisconsin, and maybe elsewhere.

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