Wisconsin GOPers Want To Block Local Governments From Issuing Voter IDs

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January 4, 2016 11:22 a.m.

Wisconsin Republicans are pushing state legislation that would block local governments from issuing voter ID cards — which are required at the ballot box under a 2011 law — even though the locals IDs currently being considered in a Milwaukee program aren’t meant to be used for voting.

Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo are floating a proposal that would ​bar towns and counties from issuing photo ID cards to the public,​ according to the Journal Sentinel, ​while placing restrictions on the IDs issued by cities and villages.​ It also would require that any ID issued by local governments to state clearly that it does not meet the state’s voter ID requirements.

The memo being circulated claims that the legislation would prevent fraud, and that local IDs would be “potentially misleading, confusing, and unfair to the card’s recipient” who would believe he or she qualified for public benefits.

The legislation appears to be a direct response to a program in the works in the Milwaukee area that would fund the issuance of a photo ID for residents to use when seeking health care, obtaining library cards and setting up bank accounts. The local IDs are meant for Milwaukee’s immigrant and homeless populations, as well as victims of domestic violence, runaway youths and transgender people who also face obstacles obtaining state IDs.

The local IDs, which were included as amendment in the county’s 2016 budget, would not be usable for voting or for receiving public benefits, supporters of the ID said.

“While it’s regrettable that Republicans deny marginalized people food and health care, they also know that Milwaukee IDs will not prove eligibility for safety net programs either — don’t worry, they’ll still be hungry,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, told the Journal Sentinel. “The Milwaukee ID program is a great example of a local government responding to grass-roots voices and stepping in to provide basic services to constituents when the state and federal government have failed to do so.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said that the legislation banned cities and villages from issuing photo IDs. The legislation prohibits counties and towns from issuing photo IDs.

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