MADISON, Wis. — Mere weeks before the November elections, Gov. Walker and election regulators have chosen to impose a photo ID requirement. Subsequent Republican partisan political games and bumbling by state election regulators endangers efforts to quickly raise awareness of the new requirement. One Wisconsin Now today called on Wisconsin media outlets to donate free airtime and ad space to help publicize the new requirements for voting and how to comply.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said, “This is a great opportunity for the broadcasters that use the public airwaves to step up and do a great public service, helping ensure legal voters are able to cast their vote in November. We’re calling on Wisconsin’s media – TV, radio and newspapers – to donate airtime and ad space to help raise awareness about the requirements of the new photo ID requirement.”
The most recent Marquette University Law School Poll found that nearly one in five Wisconsin voters are unaware of the photo ID requirement that will be in place in the November elections.
Earlier research cited in court testimony on the law indicated that in excess of 300,000 legal Wisconsin voters – primarily older citizens, minorities, students and veterans – lacked the required photo ID. Research by One Wisconsin Institute, submitted to state and federal courts, demonstrated Wisconsin citizens have significantly less access to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain a state identification than citizens in Indiana where a similar law was earlier upheld.
In the absence of an active outreach effort to educate the public by the state Government Accountability Board (GAB) and GOP political shenanigans delaying the release of already allocated funds for public education, some local governments have taken matters into their own hands. Dane County for example has allocated funds for TV and other media advertising.
The recent federal court decision on photo ID allowed, but did not require the state to impose the photo ID requirement for the November election. Ross noted that while it remains unclear if anyone actually directed the GAB to proceed with photo ID so close to the election, local governments ought not be forced to finance education efforts because of partisan political games and state bureaucratic bungling.
“There is no more essential public good than helping the people of Wisconsin have their say and participate in our elections. We’re calling on Wisconsin media outlets to help make sure a lack of education about the last minute decision on photo ID doesn’t stand between legal voters and their right to have their voice heard in November,” concluded Ross.