MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News) Democrats say the poor could face new obstacles to voting under a state bill to let them vote without a photo I-D. The minority party raised a host of concerns yesterday at a public hearing on a Republican bill aimed at making some sort of voter I-D constitutional. One of the bill's main sponsors, freshman Assembly Republican Michael Schraa of Oshkosh, said it could be "years and years" before the courts rule on the constitutionality of the original law. He says he's trying to put it into place earlier.
Two state judges have ruled that the 2011 photo I-D law was unconstitutional because it discourages the poor and disadvantaged from voting. The same issue is being raised in a federal trial which goes into its fourth day today in Milwaukee. Republicans say a voter I-D law is needed to stop voter fraud. Without it, Schraa says elections will be left "in doubt." His bill would let people vote without I-D's if they cannot afford the birth certificates needed to get them -- or if they object to be photographed for religious reasons. Their votes would be marked, and could be challenged in recounts.
Democrats at yesterday's hearing said the bill would publicly identify voters as being poor -- and some could face criminal false swearing charges if they don't follow the exact terms to-the-letter for qualifying to vote without I-D's. The bill is on a fast track in the Assembly, but the Senate plans to hold it up until the court challenges are finished.
The state is still appealing last year's two state court decisions.