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Important Changes To Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law

Very recent changes to Wisconsin's Voter ID Law will affect what veterans and people who live in residential care facilities can use to lawfully identify themselves at the polls on April 5. (Kras1/iStockPhoto.com)
Very recent changes to Wisconsin's Voter ID Law will affect what veterans and people who live in residential care facilities can use to lawfully identify themselves at the polls on April 5. (Kras1/iStockPhoto.com)
March 28, 2016

MADISON, Wis. - For the first time, Wisconsin veterans will be able to use a photo ID card issued by the Veterans Health Administration when they go to vote on April 5.

An elections bill passed by the state legislature a few weeks ago and signed by the governor makes changes to what is and is not acceptable ID at the polling place.

Reid Magney, public information officer for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, says the new law changes the original law which was passed in 2011.

"One of the IDs that was not included when the law first passed was a veteran's ID card," says Magney. "For some older veterans especially, who may let their driver license expire and they still have their veteran's ID card, this would allow them to use that."

Under the new law, a photo ID card issued by the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs may be used to obtain a ballot for Wisconsin's April 5 election.

A complete list of acceptable ID is at bring-it.wisconsin.gov.

The new law also helps ease voter registration for people who live in residential care facilities. Those people may not have traditional documentation with their current address, such as property tax or utility bills.

Magney says this change removes that obstacle.

"The change in law allows them to use a document that's prepared by the care facility," he says. "Like a lease or some other sort of document for intake, to be used as proof of residence for voter registration."

According to Magney, there were some other issues involving different standards at the polls in the February statewide primary election.

Some poll workers were refusing to issue ballots to people whose ID did not exactly match their name on the voting list, such as William versus Bill, or James versus Jim.

Some poll workers were trying to compare signatures on documents presented as ID.

Magney says there's a learning curve involved.

"It's a process to make sure that all the poll workers are educated about it," he says. "We take what we learned from this past election and we incorporate it into our training, and hopefully get everybody on the same page."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI