Voter photo I.D. law will affect UW-Whitewater students

Effects of the new voter photo I.D. law on UW-Whitewater students were discussed yesterday afternoon by the Whitewater League of Women’s Voters.

Rios

Although the league filed a lawsuit on Oct. 20 against the voter I.D. bill that was passed in June, the law will still go into effect beginning with the Feb. 2012 elections.

The new law requires citizens to show a government issued or approved photo I.D. in order to be issued a ballot for voting.

In addition to showing a photo  I.D. at the polling place, the law also requires a person to be a resident of a voting district for at least 28 consecutive days prior to election day, compared to the 10 days required for past elections.

“Our concern is voters will not know what the new law means,” Whitewater League of Women Voter’s President Ellen Penwell said. “We want to make sure everyone understands the new law and are not discouraged to vote.”

One of the acceptable forms of photo I.D. for students is a university identification card with all the requirements: a photo, student name, student signature, the card’s date of issuance and the date of expiration.

Currently, UW-Whitewater’s university identification cards do not meet the requirements.

Thomas Rios, vice chancellor of administrative affairs, said the university is currently working on creating a second photo I.D. card that can be used for student voting purposes only.

Rios is meeting with the Government Accountability Board, along with other university officials, on Nov. 9 to discuss and finalize the decisions for UW-Whitewater.

“UW-Whitewater has a lot of students who are from out of state, but only Wisconsin valid I.D. cards can be used to vote,” Rios said. “If, for example, you’re from Illinois and have an Illinois driver’s license, and want to be able to vote in Wisconsin, you would have to get a state issued I.D. card from the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles, but surrender your current Illinois license to do so.”

With the large number of out-of-state students in attendance at UW-W, the best option is to create a second card, specifically for voting purposes. That way, Rios said, out-of-state students would still be able to vote without having to surrender their drivers license.

The new student I.D. can be obtained for free only for students who ask to receive it. The I.D. will not be issued to all students, Rios said.

“We will provide students with a free I.D. that has all requirements by law because currently the card students have now have a variety of purposes, such as being able to get into certain campus buildings and pay for their dining services,” Rios said. “If we isseud everyone a new I.D. that had all those same elements, it would cost the university about $50,000-$60,000.”

Students do not need to obtain the new university identification card if they already have an acceptable photo I.D., such as a Wisconsin driver’s license.

Adam Harvell, speaker from the Government Accountability Board, said if a student forgets their I.D. at home or never got to get an acceptable photo I.D., they will still be able to vote at the polling place.

The vote will be treated differently as a provisional ballot. The ballot will be put into a separate bin and counted after 4 p.m. on Friday, three days after the election, only if the student returns with a photo I.D. before that time is up. If not, the ballot will not be counted.

“If you are from a different city and you moved to Whitewater for school, but on your license the address does not reflect your current address, you can still use that for your photo identification,” Harvell said.

Rios also mentioned that military students are exempt from having to provide a photo I.D. when voting absentee. Overseas voters are also exempt from the requirement.

For a complete list of acceptable forms of photo identification, visit the GAB website or speak with Ellen Penwell, Whitewater LWV president.

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