A U.S. Supreme Court decision means that voters do not need to show a photo ID to vote Nov. 4.
According to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the Supreme Court’s order is not the final word on the legality of Wisconsin’s voter photo ID law, but it does set the rules for the Nov. 4 election. The Supreme Court halted enforcement of the law for the time being to avoid voter confusion and because some voters had already received absentee ballots without instructions on how to comply with the voter photo ID law. The Supreme Court may decide to hear the case on its merits sometime after the November election.
Though voters will not have to show an ID to receive a ballot at this election, voters who are registering between now and Election Day may use their driver license or state ID card to establish their residence if it contains a current address.
“You may use a valid driver license or state ID card for proof of residence when you register to vote, either before or on Election Day,” said Kevin Kennedy, head of the state Government Accountability Board. “But you are not required to show a photo ID to get your ballot.”
All voters must show proof of residence to register to vote, and a driver license or state ID card with a current address are just two of many documents can use to prove they are residents. A full list is available at http://gab.wi.gov/publications/voter-guides/proof-of-residence.
Voters who have a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card are required to provide the card number on the voter registration form. Voters who do not have a driver license or state ID card can use the last four digits of their Social Security number instead.
Absentee voters who may have received a letter in recent weeks telling them to provide a photocopy of their ID card may disregard the letter. Some voters who requested or received absentee ballots before the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision Sept. 12 would have needed to provide a copy of their ID, but the Supreme Court’s order on Oct. 9 made that unnecessary.
Because the Supreme Court may someday reinstate voter photo ID in Wisconsin, the GAB is advising anyone who does not have a state ID card to take advantage of the opportunity to get one for free. The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles has a process to allow people to obtain a free State ID card for voting purposes, even if the person does not have a birth certificate.
Kennedy said that process can take time, especially for people born outside of Wisconsin, so it makes sense to get started early. More information is available at the Wisconsin DMV website, www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/petition-process.htm. If the voter photo ID law is not reinstated, voters can still use the state ID card for proof of residence when registering, he said.
People with questions about voting can contact their city, village or town clerk’s office. Voters also can visit the Wisconsin Government Accountability’s voter services website, www.myvote.wisconsin.gov, for information about voting.