Never voted? Moved? What you must bring to vote Tuesday
By Emily Rappleye
UW-Madison junior Ami Blasberg works two jobs and is a full-time student. He hasn’t found time to register to vote, let alone figure out what he needs to register.
“I’ll have my driver’s license; I hope that’s what I need. I don’t have my birth certificate,” Blasberg trailed off.
Many Wisconsin residents like Blasberg will be heading to the polls Tuesday unaware of recent changes to voting identification and registration requirements.
Luckily, Blasberg will not need his birth certificate to register. And, voters will not be required to show a photo ID. But they must sign a poll book, have lived at their current residence for 28 days, and bring proof of residency to register when they vote Tuesday.
Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators rewrote voter registration laws last year, specifying what specific forms of ID must now be presented. Although those Republicans added a show-photo-ID requirement, judges blocked it, calling it unconstitutional. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is appealing those rulings.
The new laws, and uncertainty over the photo ID requirement, confuses voters.
“You hear a lot about it in the news, but never really what applies to you exactly,” University of Wisconsin-Madison student Adam Newell said.
Photo ID laws are currently being contested in states all over the country, including Texas, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Opponents of the voter ID laws believe the laws suppress minorities, low-income, and elderly voters who may have difficulties acquiring proper forms of identification. Advocates say the law helps prevent voter fraud.
“I think there’s some level of confusion,” conceded Kevin Kennedy, director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB).
Although the photo-ID law won't apply for Tuesday's election, it "is one of the biggest changes to affect voters personally,” he added.
GAB has been trying to inform voters about these changes to minimize surprises on Tuesday.
“I didn’t have any clue what I needed before I registered,” Matt Mozur, a UW-Madison student said. However, when Mozur met with a voter registrar at College Library, he got all his questions answered.
Henry is not alone. Over 15% of voters will register for the first time or change their registration at the polls, Kennedy said in an interview with WisconsinEye, a Madison-based nonprofit public affairs TV channel.
Voters who have recently moved must change their registration. These voters must bring proper documents with them to prove where they now live and to be able to vote.
“The difficulty is you want people to be asking the questions before they get out that day,” said Kennedy.
Voters registering at the polls can avoid difficulties Tuesday by bringing an actual or electronic copy of documents that prove residency. Acceptable forms are listed below.
Another change: The law no longer allows new voters, or those who have recently moved, to have someone vouch for them in place of an approved proof of address.
To avoid lines on Tuesday, voters can also still register in person and vote early at their local city, town or village clerk’s office until 5 p.m. Friday, or when that office closes Friday, whichever is later. New or first-time voters must also provide proof of residence.
Acceptable proofs of residency:
· A current and valid Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card.
· An official ID card issued by Wisconsin government.
· An official ID card with a photo issued by an employer.
· A real estate tax bill for the current year or one year prior to the election.
· A current residential lease.
· A utility bill no more than 90 days old.
· A bank statement.
· A paycheck that lists an address.
· A university or college photo ID with a fee receipt for the current semester.
· A check or other document issued by the government.
· An affidavit on a social service agency letterhead identifying a homeless voter and describing their residence.
For more information regarding registration requirements and voting logistics in Wisconsin, visit myvote.wi.gov or GAB's Website: gab.wi.gov.
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