NEW YORK - November 3 - Today, Miles Rapoport, President of Demos, a national voting rights and public policy research organization, issued the following statement urging the Wisconsin State Senate to vote against a photo ID amendment approved Tuesday by the Wisconsin State Assembly:
"Wisconsin voters concerned about the integrity of the electoral process should urge their legislators to reject this regressive and unnecessary amendment to the state's constitution. A restrictive ID amendment will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters--many of them elderly, low-income, disabled or people of color--who lack state-issued photo identification.
"A recent study by the University of Milwaukee found African Americans in Wisconsin are half as likely to have a driver's license as white voters, and the AARP has estimated that more than 100,000 elderly Wisconsinites do not have access to a driver's license or state ID. The photo ID amendment makes it virtually impossible to accommodate voters without ID and places substantial physical and financial burdens on poor, elderly and rural citizens before they can cast a ballot. Just last week in Georgia, a federal court issued an injunction on the state's restrictive photo ID law because it appeared to violate the constitution and was equivalent to a poll tax. The voter ID amendment in Wisconsin is even more restrictive than Georgia's law and will result in costly court battles that the state of Wisconsin would likely lose.
"The photo ID amendment fails to address the administrative problems that are the real challenges to fair elections in Wisconsin. Improved poll worker training, better list management and adherence to existing laws will do far more to fix elections in Wisconsin than any new voter identification measure. Voter ID requirements--whether in Georgia, Indiana or Wisconsin--have been offered as a panacea to the states' election woes, despite evidence that individual voter fraud at the polls is highly infrequent. The most recent report from the Legislative Audit Bureau found that there were two cases of possible double voting in the six cities it examined--the only kind of fraud that would be prevented by a photo ID requirement. The Wisconsin State Senate should reject this amendment and any other attempt to insert voting barriers into the state constitution, and instead work toward making sure that every eligible voter can cast a vote that will be counted."