Frequently Asked Questions
This Frequently Asked Questions is being added to all the time. Please check back again for new entries.
|Voter Photo ID Handout|
|2011 Wisconsin Act 23||
Relating to: requiring certain identification in order to vote at a polling place or obtain an absentee ballot; absentee voting; late voter registration; proof of residence; a requirement for electors to provide a signature when voting in person at an election; the duration and location of residency for voting purposes; voting a straight party ticket; issuance of operator’s licenses and identification cards by the Department of Transportation; voter registration information; the statewide voter registration list; voter registration activities; granting rule−making authority; and providing a penalty.
|Major Impacts of Photo ID Law for 2011|
|G.A.B. Voter Photo ID Plan for Joint Committee on Finance||
Attached below are the G.A.B.'s plan to implement the public information and public outreach components of Act 23, the Voter Photo ID Law, as well as the approval letter from the Joint Committee on Finance.
For more information, see the news release.
|New Voter ID Law Requires Voters to Sign Poll List||
MADISON, WI – One of the biggest changes for voters in this summer’s recall and special elections will be that they must now sign their name on the poll list before receiving a ballot, according to the Government Accountability Board.
While the requirement for voters to show a photo ID to receive a ballot does not begin until February 2012, the requirement to sign the poll list starts now, said Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. There is an exception for voters with a physical disability.
“Many states require voters to sign the poll list before they can receive their ballot,” Kennedy said, noting that signing the poll list serves two important purposes.
“In the past, election workers have marked the voter’s name on the poll list with a sequential number to indicate he or she has received a ballot,” Kennedy said. “However, they occasionally place the number by the wrong name or forget, which can cause problems. When someone shows up at the polls and finds out he has already been marked as having voted, it raises concerns about election fraud. However, we have found that most instances are due to clerical errors. We believe that having voters sign the poll list next to their names will eliminate most of these kinds of errors.”
“The other advantage of having voters sign the poll list is that in the unlikely event someone would attempt to impersonate a voter, law enforcement will now have forensic evidence that could be used to prosecute the offender,” Kennedy said.
Elections Division Administrator Nathaniel E. Robinson noted that while showing a photo ID is optional until February 2012, signing the poll book is now mandatory, unless the voter identifies a disability that prevents them from doing so. “If the voter refuses to sign the poll list, the voter will not be able to vote,” Robinson said.
Under the Voter ID Law, which went into effect on June 10, voters must be asked to show a photo ID when they give their name and address, but will not be required to present a photo ID to receive a ballot until the Spring Primary Election in February 2012. At any election before then, a voter who does not have a photo ID will receive an informational document explaining the requirements of the new law.
|G.A.B.’s Voter Photo ID Public Information and Public Education Plan Receives Legislative Approval||
MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board received approval Friday from the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance for its plan to inform and educate the public about Wisconsin’s new Voter Photo ID law, its requirements and ways that the State’s residents can meet those standards.
“Educating Wisconsin’s voters and local election officials about the law’s many new requirements is a critical part of implementing voter ID,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “We want to make sure all electors understand the law, and that everyone has the proper photo ID to vote in February 2012.”
Before the G.A.B. spent any money on the public information and public outreach campaigns required by Act 23, the new state budget required the Board to obtain approval from the Joint Committee on Finance under the 14-day passive review process. The G.A.B. submitted a proposed plan to the committee on July 1, and the Committee gave its approval Friday, July 14, in a letter from its co-chairs, Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Robin Vos, stating no member of the committee had raised an objection to the plan.
Of the $1.9 million appropriated for implementing the law, $1.35 million will be spent for public information, public outreach, and education/training, said Nathaniel E. Robinson, elections division administrator. “All three of these components will work together and provide an effective combined tool to educate the public and local election officials about the details of Wisconsin’s new law,” Robinson said. The $1.35 million includes funding for expanded Board staff, who will implement the outreach effort.
The Board will use one of the existing state contracts with an advertising agency to assist the staff in developing a multimedia public information campaign to be deployed in waves prior to the February 2012 and April 2012 elections, as required by Act 23, and prior to the Fall 2012 Partisan Primary and General Elections, which involve much higher voter turnout than the Spring elections. The Board will also make extensive use of news releases and free public service announcements.
The Board and the agency will also develop a public outreach campaign to identify groups of voters who may not have an acceptable form of photo ID, and develop educational materials to reach those groups, which include the elderly, minority and student voters, rural and urban communities, voters with disabilities, and others.
The Board will also train, educate and provide technical assistance to Wisconsin’s local election officials for implementing the new law. Wisconsin has 1,850 municipal clerks and thousands more election workers who will need continuing training and technical assistance to uniformly implement the new law across the state.
A copy of the approved plan is available on the Board’s website: http://gab.wi.gov/publications/reports/photo-id-plan-jcf.
|Lessons Learned from Tuesday’s Election about the New Voter ID Law||
MADISON, WI – Wisconsin’s new Voter Photo ID law was put to its first real-world test at Tuesday’s election, and the Government Accountability Board has identified several common questions that arose.
“Overall, the recall and special primary elections went relatively smoothly,” said Elections Division Administrator Nathaniel E. Robinson. “There are, however, helpful lessons to be learned from the ‘soft implementation’ of the photo ID law.”
Under soft implementation, voters must be asked to show a photo ID, but are not required to do so to receive a ballot until February 2012. However, one element of the law that took effect immediately is the requirement for voters to sign the poll list. “If you do not sign the poll list, you will not receive a ballot,” Robinson said.
Here are some of the top issues that arose during Tuesday’s election:
Robinson urged voters who have a complaint or question about whether election workers are following the law to submit them through the G.A.B.’s website: http://gab.wi.gov/complaints.
Information sheets explaining the new law are available at every polling place. Voters who want to educate themselves about the new law should regularly visit the G.A.B.’s website: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id.
|Voter Photo ID Team Implementation Concept|
|Voter IDs Not Required for August Elections||
MADISON, WI – Wisconsin’s new Voter Photo ID Law will be put to another test at Tuesday’s recall election, and the Government Accountability Board reminds people who do not yet have a photo ID that they can still vote.
“Until February 2012, we are still in a ‘soft implementation’ period when a photo ID is not required,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Government Accountability Board. “However, our Help Desk continues to get calls from people concerned that they can’t vote in the coming recall elections because they don’t have a photo ID.”
Under the new law during soft implementation, voters must be asked for a photo ID before they receive a ballot; however, if they do not have a photo ID they can still vote. Voters without photo IDs must be given a handout explaining they will need a photo ID to vote beginning in February 2012. The handout also explains what IDs are acceptable, and how to get a free photo ID for voting purposes.
The handout is available at http://gab.wi.gov/publications/brochures/voter-id-handout.
Elections Division Administrator Nathaniel E. Robinson said the Board is also aware of misinformation being spread about voter registration. “The new Voter Photo ID Law did not change Election Day Registration,” Robinson said. “You can still register to vote on Election Day at your polling place.”
Robinson urged anyone with questions about the new Voter Photo ID Law to visit the Board’s website for complete, accurate information: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id.
The Government Accountability Board encourages all eligible voters to participate in the August 9 and August 16 recall elections. Voters can check their registration status, find the election date in their area and view their sample ballot at the Voter Public Access website: http://vpa.wi.gov.
|Voter Photo ID Speakers Bureau Opens||
MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board has opened a Speakers Bureau and is now accepting requests from groups for staff speakers to get the word out across Wisconsin about the new Voter Photo ID Law.
“Organizations that work with people who may need help getting a photo ID to vote can go to our website and request a speaker,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, Wisconsin’s chief election officer. “The Government Accountability Board does not have the resources to help every individual voter who needs to get a photo ID. We can, however, provide organizations with the tools and knowledge to get the job done.”
“The Voter Photo ID Speakers Bureau is part of the larger public education, information and outreach program the G.A.B. is required to conduct under the new law,” said Elections Division Administrator Nathaniel E. Robinson. “G.A.B. staff members will be available, beginning in October, to make presentations about the new law, and how groups and their members can help make sure everyone who needs a photo ID gets one.”
Because a birth certificate is required to obtain a state ID card, the time to get a proper ID for voting purposes is now rather than at the last minute before the 2012 February Primary, Robinson said.
The G.A.B. may not be able to honor all the requests. Robinson said the Speakers Bureau will give priority to organizations working with citizens who are most unlikely to have the required photo ID to vote.
The Speakers Bureau request form is available on the Board’s website: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id/speaker-request.
Voters are encouraged to visit the G.A.B.’s website (http://gab.wi.gov) for information about the new Voter Photo ID law. G.A.B. staff is producing a wide range of educational materials explaining the Voter Photo ID Law, and how to go about getting a free state ID card which can be used for voting purposes.
|Voter Photo ID Law: A Resource Guide and Documents Regarding Changes to Election Law|
|Testimony to Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules 9-27-2011||
Written Remarks by Kevin J. Kennedy, Director and General Counsel
Submitted to the
Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules
328 Northwest, Second Floor North, State Capitol
|Obtaining a Birth Certificate to get a State ID Card|
|Acceptable Photo ID|
|Confidential Voters and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|US Passport (Book & Card)|
|Absentee Voting and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Name Changes and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Ex-Felons and Incarcerated Voters|
|Homeless Voters and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Voting for the Voluntarily and Involuntarily Committed and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Election Day Voting and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Getting a Wisconsin Driver License|
|Getting a Wisconsin State ID Card||
Voter Photo ID provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 are currently enjoined orders of by two Wisconsin circuit courts, and have been appealed by the Attorney General.
|University or College Student ID Cards|
|US Uniformed Service Card for Voter Identification|
|Federally-Recognized Indian Tribal ID Card|
|Certificate of U.S. Naturalization for Voter Photo ID|
|Wisconsin Drivers License or State ID Receipt|
|How to Get a FREE Wisconsin State ID Card|
|Major Impacts of Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Proof of Residence and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Voter Registration and Wisconsin’s New Voter Photo ID Law|
|Wisconsin State ID without Photo|
|Form Letters for Indefinitely-Confined Absentee Voters and “Regular” Absentee Voters||
Clerks may use these letters to apprise your absentee voters of the ID requirement as it pertains to individual situations.
Voters who have applied for absentee ballots as indefinitely-confined electors receive the “Indefinitely-Confined Letter.”
All other voters (except those who are exempt from the requirement --military, overseas or confidential voters) receive the “General Absentee Voter Letter.”
A list of acceptable photo ID is appended to each letter as a second page so that the list may be copied to the back of each letter.
|Absentee Voting Rules Overview|
|Voter Photo ID and Other Recent Changes to Election Laws|
|How to Obtain a Free Wisconsin State ID for Voting Purposes -- Clerks|
|Testimony to Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules 11-15-2011|
|Wisconsin Voting: The Indefinitely Confined & Voters in Care Facilities|
|Testimony to Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections re: 2011 SB 381||
Prepared Remarks of Kevin J. Kennedy
2011 Senate Bill 381
Wisconsin Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections
Room 330 Southwest, State Capitol
Click attachment for full testimony.
|Testimony on 2011 Assembly Bill 476||
Prepared Remarks of Kevin J. Kennedy
Presented by G.A.B. Elections Supervisor Ross Hein
Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform
Room 328 Northwest, State Capitol
|Religious Exceptions -- Wisconsin State ID Without Photo||
If you wish to obtain an ID for voting purposes, but have spiritual beliefs which prevent you from being photographed, you can receive a State ID card without a photo at any Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
|Major Impacts of the New Voter Photo ID Bill||
If you do not have Microsoft PowerPoint on your computer, you may use the free PowerPoint file viewer program, which is available here.
|First Election with Voter Photo ID is Tuesday||
MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board reminds voters that when they go to the polls on Tuesday, things will be different – they will need to show their photo ID to receive a ballot.
“Voter photo ID is the biggest change to Wisconsin elections since 18-year-olds became eligible to vote in the early 1970s,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “But voters can avoid problems if they take a few steps to prepare.”
“Most Wisconsin residents already have the ID they need to vote,” Kennedy said. “But if they do not have one of the nine acceptable forms of photo ID, they can get a free state ID card at their local DMV office.” (See the list of acceptable IDs below.)
In addition to bringing their driver license, state issued ID card or other acceptable photo ID to the polling place, voters need to remember simply to “State It, Show It, Sign It.”
“State It” means stating their name and address to the poll workers, Kennedy said. “This is something Wisconsin voters have always needed to do to vote. It doesn’t matter if the poll workers know you.”
“Show It” means show your photo ID card. Poll workers will check to make sure you are who you say you are, and that your photo ID is valid for voting, Kennedy said. “The address on your ID does not have to be current, and your name does not have to match your name on the poll list exactly. Your ID is acceptable even if it expired after November 2010,” he said.
“Sign It” means signing the poll book – another new requirement this year. “Having you sign the poll book helps ensure your voter participation records are accurate, and will also provide evidence in case of suspected voter fraud,” Kennedy said.
Tuesday’s Spring Primary Election will be relatively small, with voters in approximately 520 of Wisconsin’s 1,850 cities, villages and towns going to the polls. These primary elections typically have turnouts of less than 10 percent of eligible voters. As a result, the G.A.B. does not anticipate major problems with implementation of the new law at this election.
“We learned a great deal during soft implementation of the Voter Photo ID Law last summer and fall,” said Nathaniel E. Robinson, elections division administrator for the G.A.B. In those elections, voters were asked for an ID, but were not required to show one. “We have been training local election officials about the changes in the law, and we have been educating and doing outreach to voters across the state.”
In January, the G.A.B. launched its “Bring It to the Ballot” campaign of public service announcements on TV, radio, newspapers, billboards and the Internet. All of the videos and other materials are available on the campaign’s website: http://bringit.wisconsin.gov. Those who do not have Internet access can call a toll-free number 1-866-VOTE-WIS (1-866-868-3947) for information.
The website contains links to a list of DMV locations and information about important exceptions in the law, which are not widely understood, for some absentee voters who are indefinitely confined for health reasons or who vote by mail on a consistent basis.
These photo IDs are acceptable for voting purposes, and can be unexpired or expired after the date of the most recent general election (currently, the November 2, 2010 election):
• A Wisconsin DOT-issued driver license, even if driving privileges are revoked or suspended
These photo IDs are also acceptable for voting purposes, but must be unexpired:
• A certificate of naturalization that was issued not earlier than two years before the date of an election at which it is presented
Voters who do not have one of these acceptable photo IDs can cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. However, for that vote to be counted, a provisional voter must bring back an acceptable photo ID – to either the polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day, or the municipal clerk’s office by 4 p.m. the Friday after the election.
|First Election with New Voter ID Law Successful||
MADISON, WI – Wisconsin’s first election with voters required to show a photo ID went smoothly, with very few reported problems, according to the Government Accountability Board.
“Overall, we had a good experience with voter photo ID at the Spring Primary election,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, Wisconsin’s chief elections officer. “We were able to resolve the few issues that came up, and we will be following up with local election officials to avoid those issues in the Spring Election on April 3.”
Under the law, voters are required to show a photo ID to prove their identity and to sign the poll book before receiving a ballot. In 2011 special and recall elections, voters were asked for an ID, but were not required to present identification to vote. Here are the issues that arose during Tuesday’s election:
Robinson noted that the Help Desk also received a number of calls from people with questions about other forms of photo ID they believe should be included in the list of acceptable IDs, such as membership cards from warehouse stores. “The Legislature approved the use several specific forms of government-issued ID for voting under the new Voter Photo ID Law,” he said. “Poll workers are not able to accept other forms of photo ID, even if they are government issued.”
Kennedy said a variety of factors went into making Tuesday’s first election with photo ID a success. “The news media has done a terrific job of getting the word out about the new law in addition to our Bring It to the Ballot public education campaign,” Kennedy said. “That coverage has been very helpful in this low-turnout election, but we still have much work ahead in getting the word out to all 4.3 million eligible Wisconsin voters before elections later this year, which will have a much higher turnout.”
In January, the G.A.B. launched the Bring It to the Ballot public education campaign with television and radio public service announcements, as well as billboard, Internet and print ads. Public service announcements and videos are available at http://bringit.wisconsin.gov and on YouTube.
Robinson also credited municipal clerks for the job they have done training poll workers about the new law and the new procedures at the polling place. He urged voters who have a complaint or question about whether election workers are following the law to submit them through the G.A.B.’s website: http://gab.wi.gov/complaints.
Voters with questions about the law, whether they have the right ID to vote and how to get a free state ID card should visit http://bringit.wisconsin.gov or call the toll-free Voter Photo ID information line at 1-866-VOTE-WIS (866-868-3947).
|Statement Regarding Voter Photo ID Law Injunction||
Madison, WI – Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy issued a statement today regarding Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan’s order to “cease immediately any effort to enforce or implement the photo identification requirements of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, pending trial of this case and further order of the court.”
“We will take steps to suspend enforcement and implementation of the photo ID provisions of Act 23. We will communicate with local election officials and the public about the impact of this order. No decision has been made regarding an appeal. We will consult with the Attorney General’s office on this issue.”
“Other key provisions of Act 23 remain in effect: the requirement for 28 consecutive days of residency to vote, the requirement for voters to sign the poll list, and the end of corroboration for voters who do not have proof of residence.”
|Impact of Voter Photo ID on SVRS|
|Permanent Injunction in Voter Photo ID Case||
Decision of Judge Richard Niess.