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Push for Photo I.D. for Voters Expected in State Senate This Week

March 3, 2008

Madison, WI – It's a "photo finish" this week in the State Senate, with a push to vote on a photo I.D. requirement for voters. Supporters say photo I.D. is needed to prevent fraud in voting; they point toward a recommendation in a recent report from Milwaukee’s Police Department on the 2004 elections. Justin Levitt with the Brennan Center for Justice has researched claims of illegal voting in Wisconsin and other states – he says a close look at the report tells a different story.

"Of the millions of votes cast in Wisconsin in 2004, zero related to problems that could have been prevented by requiring photo I.D. at the polls. There are no credible reports of people impersonating others at the polls in Wisconsin in 2004. On the flip side, photo I.D. requirements do keep eligible Americans from voting."

He says more investment in training and recruitment of poll workers would fix most problems in Wisconsin. But supporters of photo I.D. say it's needed to prevent fraud. They point toward recommendations in a recent Milwaukee Police Department report on the 2004 elections. But Levitt says a close look at that report finds no need for photo I.D.

Melanie Ramey with the League of Women Voters in Wisconsin says most voting problems could be fixed with a better investment in Election Day preparation. She points toward increased funding for elections in Milwaukee since 2004 as a good example.

"We need some more people to work at the polls, and they need to trained, and we think that that's exactly where any concern needs to be."

With senate approval, photo I.D. would go to voters as a constitutional amendment.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI