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Fighting fraud with voter ID legislation

By Joel Kleefisch

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

In 2011, after years of efforts in the legislature, Wisconsin enacted a law requiring voters show photo identification before voting in an election. I'm sure you've heard that like several pieces of legislation passed last session, this law was taken to court by the ACLU and other special interest groups leading to Dane County judges blocking the law.

Due to the courts decisions, former Rep. Jeff Stone introduced legislation to address some of the primary concerns from voter ID legislation. Now Representatives Schraa and Born are moving forward with a bill to supplement the legislation for voter ID. I have indicated to them my support by signing on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

With a bounty of options open to citizens under Representative Schraa and Born's bill, everyone without a state ID could manage to obtain a free, state identification card at the DMV. If that is too much of a burden, there would still be the option of going to the polls with no ID, signing a couple of extra pieces of paperwork, casting the ballot, but having it treated like a challenged ballot. It would be marked with a serial number corresponding to that person's information in the poll book. If he or she is found to have voted fraudulently in this situation, that person's specific ballot with the serial number would be removed and not counted.

Also taken into consideration are the issues that our veterans run into with their U.S. veteran ID cards. In the past, difficulties have occurred in casting a ballot if that was the only identification a voter had. This legislation would allow the U.S. veteran ID card to qualify as proper identification, in addition to the many other accepted forms of ID already available in Wisconsin.

Under the proposed legislation, there are three acceptable reasons for not having proper identification: the voter cannot afford to get an ID or obtain the required documents; the voter has religious objections to being photographed; or the voter cannot obtain the original documents to get an ID, such as if a birth certificate were lost in a fire. This proposal does not affect registration in any way.

For me, it's hard to believe that there are people surviving in society without even the simplest forms of identification. It boggles my mind that anyone can get through the rigors of daily life, like buying cold medication, renting videos, or getting mandatory insurance without an ID.

This bill will have some challenges to face, but the voter ID law is too important to be held up in the court system for years on end. We can't sit around and wait for the courts to make their decision. Wisconsin needs to have a law in place now to prevent voter fraud because undermining the validity of elections ultimately undermines our model of government.

Right now in Wisconsin, there is no way to determine if fraud was committed at the polls because we have no system protecting the integrity of elections. Here's to hoping that we can keep the trust of the people by giving citizens the confidence that their vote counts and that voter fraud is being taken out of the equation.

-- Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, represents Wisconsin's 38th Assembly District.

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