Editorial: Voters must come preparedCandidate filings for local public office are done. The list of who’s running was published in last week’s Journal and is updated in this week’s edition. More campaign coverage will follow as spring elections near.
Candidate filings for local public office are done. The list of who’s running was published in last week’s Journal and is updated in this week’s edition. More campaign coverage will follow as spring elections near.
Before they occur, some primary elections are set for February.
This means that voting is just around the corner. It’ll be a hectic year with a possible governor’s recall election in summer and a presidential election in November.
Voters face change for these elections, including the February primary. In order to vote, state law now requires that they first prove who they are. That’s done by picture.
The Voter Photo ID law passed last June. Most of us have a valid photo ID in the form of a driver’s license.
Other forms that suffice are a Wisconsin state ID card; military ID card; U.S. passport; a Certificate of Naturalization; an ID issued by a federally recognized Wisconsin Indian tribe; and a photo ID issued by a Wisconsin accredited university that’s accompanied by proof of enrollment.
Those who don’t have a valid photo ID can get a free one from a state Department of Motor Vehicles Service Center. There’s a DMV in Hudson at 2100 O’Neil Road in the business park. It’s open most daytime hours weekdays and can be reached by taking Hwy. 35N, then turning west on Hanley Road.
For the 2012 elections, voters must also sign their name in a poll book before receiving a ballot. In the fall 2011 elections, signing the poll book was optional.
Wisconsin residents can still register to vote on election day but there’s a change: You must be a resident of the jurisdiction where you wish to vote for 28 straight days. The old requirement for residency was just 10 days.
The Voter Photo ID also changed absentee voting. Photo IDs will be required for those registering to vote absentee. The period for in-person absentee voting was also shortened. It now begins the third Monday before the election and ends at 5 p.m. Friday before the election.
Those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities who want to vote absentee don’t need a photo ID, but they do need to have an “absentee witness” verify their identity.
River Falls City Clerk Lu Ann Hecht is knowledgeable on voting changes for 2012. For questions, she can be reached at 715-426-3408 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rural residents can also contact their town clerks.
We editorialized against passage of the voter photo IDs. Main reason: It seemed political. There was little if any documented abuse of voter fraud in Wisconsin. New photo ID requirements will likely keep some from voting, namely those without driver’s licenses and reliable transportation to get a photo ID.
But those objections are history. The law exists. Voters need to be aware of what’s required before they can expect to exercise their right to vote.