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League of Women Voters Says: Voter Photo I-D Bill Bad for Democracy

March 5, 2007

A constitutional amendment to require photo I.D. on Election Day is expected to come up for an Assembly vote this month. Sponsors say the law is needed to reduce fraud at the polling station. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has come out against the plan. Director Andrea Kaminski says there are more effective ways to fight fraud, and she points to recent studies showing a chilling effect on voter turnout.

"States that have imposed identification requirements on voters actually reduced turn-out at the polls in the 2004 election by about 3 percent, and by two to three times as much for minorities."

Kaminski believes the best ways to fight fraud are better funding and training for poll workers, and the completion of the state's voter database. She says people who move around frequently or who don't have driver's licenses would face an unfair hurdle on Election Day.

"The burden of obtaining an acceptable I.D. is greatest for the very people who already find it the most difficult to exercise their constitutional right to vote: that includes the disabled, the elderly, students, those with low income, and minorities. It's an unfair measure that will reduce public participation in our elections. We call that a net loss for democracy."

If approved by both state houses, the bill would go to voters for approval before making its way into the state's Constitution.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI