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Senate reports detail Russian influence via social media on the 2016 election. Also on Tuesday's rundown: North Carolina jurors reject the death penalty for a second consecutive year; and Medicaid expansion proves important to rural Kentuckians.

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Voter ID in Wisconsin: Solving a Problem That Doesn’t Exist?

PHOTO: A Wisconsin driver's license is one of the few forms of accepted photo identification for the state's November election. A federal appeals court recently removed the injunction against Wisconsin's Voter ID law and said the law should be in force for the November election. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation.
PHOTO: A Wisconsin driver's license is one of the few forms of accepted photo identification for the state's November election. A federal appeals court recently removed the injunction against Wisconsin's Voter ID law and said the law should be in force for the November election. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation.
September 24, 2014

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The recent decision by a federal appeals court that cleared the way to reinstate Wisconsin's Voter ID law for the November election may create unforeseen problems, according to Milwaukee attorney Ann Jacobs, a member of the legal coordinating committee for Wisconsin Election Protection.

Jacobs said Voter ID addresses what some see as a nonexistent problem. Wisconsin had the second-highest voter turnout in the nation in 2012, she said, adding that the way to protect elections is to ensure that every eligible voter who wants to vote gets to cast a ballot.

"We should be trying to expand our franchise, not enacting legislation that limits it," she said. "Every time we put another layer, another burden, another obligation on the voter, we make it harder to exercise that franchise."

Those who support the state's Voter ID law say it will help protect the integrity of the voting process. Jacobs said the only issue Voter ID addresses is voter impersonation - someone claiming to be someone else - which she said hasn't been a problem, either in Wisconsin or the nation as a whole.

Jacobs, training director for the nonpartisan group, said the decision to reinstate the law after the process for the November election was already under way, has created a problem for people who may not now have appropriate forms of ID.

"It is now an obligation on all of us to make sure not only that we have the necessary ID but that the people we know and the people we love have the ID so they can vote as well," she said. "So, it's on all of us as voters and citizens to reach out and make sure that everyone who wants to vote gets to vote."

Jacobs said this last-minute reinstatement of the Voter ID law has created a huge issue in terms of the absentee ballots that already have been cast in Wisconsin, and a shortage of time and resources to get election personnel trained.

"The problem that I'm seeing in this election is not that there is going to be an intentional impartiality in the administration of these elections," she said. "Rather, it is going to be that, due to the limited time period in which to implement this sweeping new law, clerks are going to be left without the resources they need to fairly administer the election."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI