State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
I will be a guest of Joy Cardin’s on Wisconsin Public Radio this Monday morning from 7:30-8:00 a.m.
We will discuss a photo ID requirement for voting.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard on WHAD, 90.7 on your FM dial.
Just about everyone in every group in America supports voter ID, and almost no one is excluded from voting by this requirement.
Those are the findings of a survey written about by MIT Department of Political Science Professor Stephen Ansolabehere in February 2007. During 2006, a collaborative survey project among 37 universities included a 36,500 person national sample survey, called the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES).
The survey was taken of people who voted in 2006 elections and was conducted in three timeframes: August-September 2006, October 2006, and November 2006.
Here are the key findings pertaining to voter ID. A large majority of all respondents expressed support for the requirement, over 75 percent with 17 percent opposed, and eight percent unsure.
It doesn’t matter what part of the country the question is asked. The majority of voters endorse voter ID. The highest level of support is in the South where every state has some form of ID requirement to vote. An incredible 81 percent supports voter ID in the South, with three-fourths of voters in the Midwest and West and just over two-thirds of voters in the Northeast like the idea.
What is the breakdown by political persuasion? Ansolabehere writes:
“Ninety-five percent of people who identify as Conservatives or as Republicans support voter identification requirements. Slightly more than 7 in 10 moderates and Independents supported the voter identification rule. Two-thirds of Democrats supported the idea, as did 60 percent of people who identify as Liberal and 50 percent of those who identify as very liberal. The very high support among Democratic voters comes as something of a surprise considering the very strong opposition to the voter identification proposal from Democratic congressional leaders and members.”
The biggest surprise from the survey came with race. Ansolabehere writes:
“The surprise was the lack of division. Over 70 percent of Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks support the requirement. Black and Hispanic voters did not express measurably less support for voter identification requirements than whites. The Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic Party leadership were wholly out of step with the analogous segments of the electorate on this issue. The lowest levels of support (and again it’s a majority) came from White Democrats and White Liberals.”
The true test of voting requirements that include identification according to Ansolabehere is in the rate such laws exclude or prevent people from casting ballots. The MIT professor offers the reminder that the Help America Vote Act created a fail-safe mechanism: the provisional ballot. If a voter’s name is not on a list or questions a rise, the individual can cast a ballot that is verified later. Studies done by the Election Assistance Commission conclude that approximately two percent of ballots cast in 2004 were provisional. About two-thirds of those were valid, and most of those consisted of people who were not in fact registered.
The MIT survey found, as Ansolabehere puts it that, “Almost no one was excluded from voting. Only 23 people in the entire 36,500 person sample said that they were not allowed to vote because of voter identification requirements. That figure translates into approximately one-tenth of one percent of voters. The real lesson from the data is that the total number of people who said they were not allowed to vote because of voter identification requirements is trivially small.”
What about race? Ansolabehre writes:
“Exclusions because of voter qualification questions showed no racial differences. Of those Election Day voters whose registration was problematic, 70 percent were white, 16 percent were black, and 10 percent were Hispanic. Across all racial groups 85 to 86 percent were allowed to cast regular ballots and 13 to 14 percent cast provisional ballots. It is rare in survey data that a true zero arises. The number of people who said they were excluded from the polls as a result of voter identification requirements, however, is approaching that limit.”
Ansolabehere is blunt in his conclusions:
“Voter identification is the controversy that isn’t. Almost no one is excluded by this requirement, and when problems arise there is now a reasonable fail safe mechanism. It is not surprising, then, that large majorities in the public support the idea.
It is charged that voter id requirements are used to discriminate against people, especially racial minorities, and that has a chilling effect. That almost no one is prevented from voting because of voter id requirements casts doubt on arguments from the left that this amounts to a new poll tax or literacy test.
It is also hard to imagine how id requirements could have a chilling effect, if they are rarely used to prevent people from voting. The poll tax, literacy test, and other tools of the Jim Crow laws are powerful metaphors derived from a very ugly period in American history. Id requirements in practice bear absolutely no resemblance to such discriminatory practices. This is simply not a case of voter intimidation. Almost no one in the survey (less than one tenth of one percent of voters) reported that they could not vote.”
Here is survey data breaking down responses from various groups. You will see two numbers. The first is the percentage that supports voter ID from that particular group. The second is the percentage of the group that was prevented from voting because of voter ID:
All Respondents 77% / 0.1%
Northeast 68% /0.1%
Midwest 76% /0.2%
South 81% /0.1%
West 76% /0.1%
Democrats 67% / 0.2%
Republicans 95% /0.1%
Independents 72% /0.1%
Very Liberal 51% /0.2%
Liberal 61% /0.3%
Moderate 74% /0.1%
Conservative 95% / 0.1%
Very Conservative 95% / 0.0%
Whites 77% /0.1%
Blacks 70% /0.4%
Hispanic 78% /0.1%
Here are some other numbers closer to home to consider.
April 1, 2008, Wisconsin voters decided a statewide referendum about the Frankenstein veto. With 99% of the vote reporting, 567,913 (71%) voted in favor of the constitutional amendment to end the veto, and 237, 338 (29%) voted no. That means at least 805,251 people in Wisconsin voted on the veto issue.
Probably about 805,000 and maybe more Wisconsin voters would like to go to the polls and cast a ballot about a photo ID requirement for voting in our state.
It is sad and unfortunate that 19 individuals, Governor Doyle and 18 state Senate Democrats block voter ID in Wisconsin. Governor Doyle vetoed voter ID three times. Senate Democrats refused to bring the issue to the Senate floor March 6, 2008, days before the end of the 2007-2008 General Session of the Legislature. The Constitutional Amendment process is dead and must start over with approval during the 2009-2010 session of the Legislature and the 2011-2012 session of the Legislature. The only other option is to convince Governor Doyle to approve and not veto a photo ID bill.
Governor Doyle and Senate Democrats are, in essence, standing in the way, obstructing the will of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens denying them an opportunity to speak out on election reform.
Here is Ansolabehre’s entire paper about voter ID.
The nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance WTA) reports that Census data shows “Wisconsin spent $10,190 per pupil to operate public schools in 2006. School expenditures here ranked 14th highest among the states and 8.5% above the U.S. average ($9,390). The main reason for the above-average ranking was fringe benefits that exceeded national averages by more than 50%."
Read the WTA press release.
Senate District 28 that I represent has a great number of boaters and waterfront property owners.
There is great concern about invasive species, especially hydrilla and milfoil.
Hydrilla is described as a prolific, rapidly-growing submerged aquatic plant that forms dense mats of vegetation. Milfoil is an invasive plant that forms thick mats at the water’s surface that is easily snagged and carried on boat motors and trailers. A single fragment can colonize a new body of water.
To prevent the spread of these and other invasive species and disease, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging boaters to follow these steps:
· Buy bait fish only from a Wisconsin bait dealer.
· Drain lake or river water from boat, live wells and bait containers before leaving a landing.
· Do not move live fish away from any water, except for live minnows purchased from a Wisconsin bait dealer and kept under certain conditions.
· Inspect your boat and trailer and remove all fish, mud and plant matter.
They are the three states in America that require voters display a government –issued photo ID, like a driver’s license, to vote.
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision ruled that Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement is constitutional. The law had previously been upheld by a federal judge and by a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his opinion that the state of Indiana had legitimates interests in its photo ID law, including, “protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process, deterring and detecting voter fraud,” and safeguard voter confidence.”
Stevens in his opinion also quoted a report by the Commission on Federal Election Reform chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III that said:
“A good registration list will ensure that citizens are only registered in one place, but election officials still need to make sure that the person arriving at a polling site is the same one that is named on the registration list. In the old days and in small towns where everyone knows each other, voters did not need to identify themselves. But in the United States, where 40 million people move each year, and in urban areas where some people do not even know the people living in their own apartment building let alone their precinct, some form of identification is needed.
There is no evidence of extensive fraud in U. S. elections or of multiple voting, but both occur, and it could affect the outcome of a close election. The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo identification cards currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”
Following the ruling, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita said, "Indiana won the national battle for voter protection. Across the country, leaders are thanking Hoosiers for raising the bar and protecting voters and improving the integrity of the election process. If it is a close race, we're going to be waiting awhile. That could make some (people) anxious. But Indiana is more interested in an accurate outcome."
Indiana’s law requires a government issued photo ID. Exemptions exist for the indigent, those with a religious objection to being photographed and those living in state-licensed facilities that serve as their precinct's polling place.
If a person is unable or unwilling to present a photo ID, he or she may cast a provisional ballot. Upon casting a provisional ballot, the person has until noon 10 days after the election to follow up with the county election board and either provide a photo ID or affirm that one of the law's exemptions applies.
Rokita says that since the Supreme Court first heard arguments in the case during January 2008, he has received inquiries from 25 states about Indiana’s law.
What about Wisconsin?
Wisconsin missed a golden opportunity to make significant election reform in the previous legislative session. Senate Democrats refused to schedule a constitutional amendment to require a photo ID to vote. The Senate needed to approve the amendment that I co-sponsored in order for the issue to go to voters in a statewide referendum.
Senate Democrats allowed the 2007-2008 legislative session to end without taking a vote on the amendment. Had the Senate adopted the amendment, I am confident Wisconsin voters would have overwhelmingly approved it in a statewide referendum. I lobbied aggressively for photo ID, even pointing to studies that demonstrate requiring photo ID’s to vote are not hardships or obstacles to voting.
In Georgia, one of the three states that require a government-issued photo ID, Secretary of State Karen Handel said even when 2 million voters turned out at the polls for the February presidential primary, the state did not have problems.
“There has not been one single demonstrated deprivation of any right to vote or any other violation of a constitutional or statutory right resulting from the photo ID requirement,” Handel said.
Governor Doyle would be wise to call a special session of the Legislature to address the photo ID issue well in advance of the November elections. The governor has vetoed photo ID legislation three times, so that prospect is unlikely.
Stateline.org reports that experts believe the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Indiana’s law, “paves the way for other states to do the same thing.”
The Indianapolis Star newspaper reports that about half the states have some voter ID requirement. Until Wisconsin starts getting as serious about photo ID as other states, voters will never be able to enjoy the full confidence that their votes have not been disenfranchised.