Wisc. Official Tells Staff to Keep Quiet About Free Voter IDs
Wisconsin Republicans recently passed a controversial bill requiring that voters provide valid photo identification at the polls. Those IDs are free, if you ask—if you don't, they're $28. And that Department of Transportation memo recommending that staffers not tell applicants that state IDs are free? Just a coincidence that it was authored by a former Republican staffer!
"Voter-I.D." laws are valuable tools against "voter fraud," when you define "voter fraud" as "poor people being allowed to vote." (Voter-I.D. laws are rather unhelpful against voter fraud when it's defined in the more traditional sense.) And Wisconsin Republicans are very concerned about "voter fraud"! But when Steve Krieser, former Republican state Senate aide, told staffers they "should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it," he did so in his capacity as executive assistant of the Department of Transportation, okay?
Krieser argued that his role is apolitical — that he is implementing the policy without passing judgment on whether it's "good policy, bad policy or otherwise." He said at the time he wrote it, there were no political motivations, it was just how he thought the new law should be enacted.
And, obviously, he thought the new law should be enacted in a way that added an extra obstacle to people looking to obtain an ID. But he thought that in a totally apolitical way! So get off his back! It's not like there's a larger pattern of making it difficult to get an ID that this memo would fit perfectly into.
In July, [Governor Scott] Walker also came under criticism for proposing to close several DMV offices, a move Democrats argued would have violated the law requiring that places issuing licenses need to be open for at least 20 hours a week in each county. Walker eventually backed off and announced he would leave the stations open.
Twenty-six percent of the 91 Wisconsin DMV stations are open one day a month or less, according to [progressive group] One Wisconsin Now. Therefore, argued Ross, making people pay $28 on top of the cost of actually getting to a DMV could be burdensome for many Wisconsin residents. He likened it to a "poll tax" of the sort that were in place in the South during the Jim Crow era to prevent minorities from voting.
How dare you accuse Scott Walker of imposing a tax! This is just a "poll fee."