Report: DMV making voter ID difficult in Wisconsin

A voting rights group, using audio it recorded from several Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles offices in rural areas of the state, says people there are being given incorrect information when they try to get an ID to vote in next month’s election.

The group, VoteRiders, gave the recordings to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, saying it’s “challenging and confusing” for people to get the identification now required to vote.

“You’re not guaranteed to get an ID card. Nothing’s guaranteed,” a worker at the DMV station in Hudson told a woman last Wednesday.

That’s similar to what a woman was told in Rice Lake, Wis., when she asked about getting an ID without a birth certificate.

In Black River Falls, Wis., a DMV worker said no temporary voting credential was available. That, too, is incorrect.

At the Amery, Wis.,  DMV, a worker told the woman she could get an ID in time for the election, but he couldn’t promise the voter she would have it if she wanted to vote early, the Journal Sentinel said.

Susan Crawford, an attorney for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said her group may present the latest recordings in a friend-of-the-court brief. She said the recordings could prompt courts to create a new safety valve for those who can’t get IDs, such as by allowing them to sign statements at the polls that would allow them to vote without ID.

She discounted the state’s contention that a safety valve is already available because state workers are trained to tell people they can quickly get voting credentials in one trip to the DMV.

“I think the state’s credibility on that point is very much in question,” Crawford said.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports today it sought the audio from VoteRiders last week and specifically requested the recordings yesterday. VoteRiders declined to provide them, the paper said.

  • MrE85
  • Anna

    Wisconsin, formerly a strong Democratic state is now considered Republican according to the latest political polls.

    And Trump thinks the Democrats are going to rig the election?

    Foul! I think some state workers are badly misinformed.

    • MrE85

      Real Clear Politics average of WI polls has Secretary Clinton up by 4.7. I think that you make a good case that the rules have not been clearly explained to the people giving out ID cards and drivers licenses.

      • Anna

        Regardless of polls, considering the voter ID law for Wisconsin was contested and portions of it invalidated by Federal Judge Peterson as discriminatory on several levels, you would think that in such a highly competitive national election the State of Wisconsin would provide a cheat sheet reflecting those changes to the workers at the DMV instead of letting these knuckleheads continue to give out misinformation.

        This reminds me of the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses for gay couples based on religious objection. We know what a circus that became.

        I think Minnesota has the right idea. Same day voter registration after providing utility statements for gas, water, sewer or electricity. No birth certificate or driver’s license required.

        • MrE85

          Yes, we don’t require personal identification*, but we do need some sort of proof of residence so we can confirm you are voting in the right place. That’s where the utility bills come in.
          * Fraud cases where someone uses another person’s identity to vote are extremely rare, both here and in WI.

  • Fred, Just Fred

    Evidently, these people have never had to deal with an AFSCME member before. Welcome to America.

    • wjc

      Deplorable sums it up.

      • FTR, AFSCME doesn’t represent DMV employees in Wisconsin.

        • Fred, Just Fred

          …my point being, this kind of frustration is SOP in any government office.

          Anyone that has not had to step across the yellow line on the floor to deal with someone behind an acronym counter absolutely needed to have that on the bucket list.

          It’s a conspiracy of non-partisan fecklessness.

          • Chris

            As long as we’re throwing out generalities, I renewed a driver’s license in Faribault, MN. That’s a privately-run license office. It’s owned/operated by a local family, not your dreaded state government worker. Terrible and rude service and I will never go back. I actually spoke to the owner because it was so awful and he did not care one bit. But I recently needed a new car title and went to Woodbury, which is run by the city. Wonderful, fast and friendly service.

          • Shhhhh! The Woodbury License Bureau is one of the best kept secrets. Don’t be telling anybody about it!!!

        • Kassie

          Details, details, Bob. Why look to facts when you can just categorically bash large groups of people?

          Also, I tried to find the answer, who is in charge of manning DMV facilities in Wisconsin? I believe in Minnesota some are state employees, some are county employees and some may even be city or private employees? And if they do have a federate system like we have in MN, is that why it is difficult to get consistent communication to the staff at the DMV?

        • wjc

          My deplorable was in reference to the voter suppression efforts going on around the country, not about the DMV employees.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            So, if voter suppression is what is happening at the DMV, who is doing it, your local barista? Oh wait, I know….Bush, right?

      • Fred, Just Fred

        Yup, your tax dollars at work.

  • Mike Worcester

    As I’ve explained to folks from other countries, we don’t have a national election here, we have fifty-one distinct state elections, each with their own sets of rules and regulations. At the risk of inciting a federalism vs. state’s rights debate on here, I really wonder if there is a better way to set a national standard for how we regulate voting.

    • wjc

      Small correction: 51 elections (DC)

      The only problem with a national standard is that it might be a standard that we in Minnesota wouldn’t like.

      • Mike Worcester

        Corrected, ty!

        And yes, we very well could, for example, lose same-day registration, which has helped make Minnesota a leader in turnout.

        • Kassie

          And honestly, many more that that. I’ve been an election judge in more than one county and each county does things and interprets the laws differently. And while a lot of that ends up being seen in things like how flags and signs are hung, but it can also be with what IDs can and can’t be used and how much training judges get to recognize those IDs. Minneapolis early on allowed electronic versions of utilities shown on phones as acceptable forms of verification for registration, but other municipalities did not.