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Wisconsin Voter ID: Make Sure You Have It Now

Older Wisconsin voters might assume they don't need a photo ID to vote in the presidential primary on April 5 because they've voted at the same polling place for years, but that isn't the case. (lisafx/iStockphoto)
Older Wisconsin voters might assume they don't need a photo ID to vote in the presidential primary on April 5 because they've voted at the same polling place for years, but that isn't the case. (lisafx/iStockphoto)
March 14, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – The Boy Scouts' motto "Be Prepared" is a good one to keep in mind leading up to the state's presidential primary on April 5th, according to Helen Marks Dicks, state issues advocacy director with AARP Wisconsin.

She says it seems two camps have emerged regarding Wisconsin's newly-enforced law requiring a photo ID to vote: those who are worried they won't have proper ID, and those who aren't concerned, but should be.

Dicks says don't wait, take action now. Call your city or county clerk and find out if your ID will be sufficient.

"Because if you do it now, you either are going to end up assured that you are ready, or if you need to do something, you have time to do it,” she states. “You shouldn't start fretting about this the week before the election."

Dicks says it would be a shame if voters were turned away at the polls simply because they didn't take time to familiarize themselves with the new law and have the proper ID to vote.

AARP Wisconsin has posted the basics on its website, or voters can get information by calling the state's Voter Help Line at 1-866-VOTE-WIS.

Dicks says many families will have an older member, like Great Uncle Ole, who says he doesn't need to have ID because he's voted at the same place for 50 years and "everybody knows him."

"The ladies at the polling place are going to be very nice to him,” Dicks assures. “They're going to say, 'Ole, we're so happy to see you, but sorry, we can't let you vote unless you have one of the approved identifications.'"

Dicks adds in many ways, senior citizens are the most vulnerable when it comes to having an acceptable voter ID, but says there's no reason to panic.

"Call your city clerk or your county clerk, and just ask them if what you have would work,” she advises. “And if not, then you contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. Do it step by step. You might find you are not someone who has to go forward and get a new ID."

In most cases, a Wisconsin driver's license is sufficient. But as Dicks points out, senior citizens are among the most likely not to have a current driver's license.

"But many of them have passports, and many of them have that kind of identification that they could use,” she points out. “And even if your driver's license has expired, as long as it was good on 11-4-2014, it's still good for the purposes of letting you vote."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI