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.
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.