The Photo ID Smokescreen

by Tony Palmeri

May 9, 2005

Last Sunday Stew Rieckman cited "great investigative journalism by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" to bolster his support for voter ID legislation. What Rieckman did not cite was a May 5, 2005 Journal Sentinel editorial in which the paper took a stand against such legislation.

In the editorial, the Journal Sentinel acknowledged that their investigation uncovered irregularities in the last presidential election. But the Journal Sentinel editorial writers reached a conclusion much different than Rieckman: "it's not certain that a photo ID would fix these problems and could create other problems by erecting obstacles to voting for those least likely to have photo IDs. Wisconsin has been intensely progressive about making voting as easy as possible for its residents. This could upend that."

In another editorial (April 20) the Journal Sentinel said: "Backers of a photo ID requirement have asserted again and again that it would have prevented many of the problems that came to light in Milwaukee and around Wisconsin after the 2004 presidential election. Yet, they have put forth not a single case where such a requirement would have actually helped."

Do we really want Ohio style bureacracy and confusion in Wisconsin?

The photo ID legislation as written could have horrendous results not just for some elderly and homeless citizens, but for college students too. Because students frequently move, the address on their state approved photo ID frequently does not match with their actual residence. The legislation would require such students to cast a "provisional" ballot, creating the potential for more bureaucratic confusion and discouraging students from going to the polls.

I've been very critical of Jim Doyle, but he was correct to veto the photo ID legislation. The legislation is a smokescreen that creates additional voting problems while not solving any of the real problems that do exist.

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