Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposes free photo IDs stamped 'voting purposes only'

Free state-issued IDs proposed in Wisconsin would allow holders to vote, but could not be used for anything else, such as opening a bank account or proving identity when picking up a child from school, Patrick Marley reports for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The administration of Republican Gov. Scott Walker said it wants to stamp "voting purposes only" on the IDs, in an effort to encourage residents to pay for IDs that can be used for other purposes.

In 2011 Walker signed a voter-ID law that "required people to show photo ID at the polls, but also made state IDs free to those who said they needed them for voting purposes," Marley writes. That led more people to skip the $28 fee for the ID in favor of the free one. In 2015 the state made $437,000 from ID sales, down from $3.2 million in 2010. The money goes to the state transportation fund.

Officials say forcing residents to pay for IDs would increase transportation revenue by $1 million over two years, Marley writes. That's not sitting well with some. Jon Peacock, research director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, told Marley, "I don’t think the elderly and low-income people who don’t drive should be the state’s target for boosting revenue for transportation spending." Peacock also said having two forms of state-issued IDs could cause confusion.

Wisconsin is one of several states with controversial voter ID laws. Republicans favor voter-ID laws, saying they cut down on voter fraud, but Democrats say there is scant evidence of voter impersonation and the laws make voting more difficult for minorities—who are more likely to vote Democratic.

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