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Primary election first to use new voter identification rules

Bring photo ID and be ready for some slowdowns at polls

A woman takes time to cast her ballot in Shorewood in February.

A woman takes time to cast her ballot in Shorewood in February. Photo By Rick Wood

June 28, 2011

If you were not a resident of the 8th Senate District as of June 14, don't plan on voting in the July 12 primary election.

The new residency rules are part of the new Voter ID Law that went into effect June 8.

For instance, a person moving from Franklin to Whitefish Bay on July 1 would not be allowed to vote in the election. A person moving from Whitefish Bay to Menomonee Falls on July 1 could vote, but not in Menomonee Falls. The law requires that he/she vote in Whitefish Bay.

The recall elections will be a limited exercise in determining how the new law works. It will be in full effect in 2012.

"We look at this as an opportunity to learn how this will work," said Reid Magney, spokesman for the Government Accountability Board.

Municipal clerks are scrambling to learn the new regulations and will emphasize the changes at upcoming training sessions prior to the primary election.

Although best known because of its requirement that voters have a photo ID, the law made several other changes, notably the residency requirement. Residency requirements changed from 10 days in a district to 28.

Voters will be asked to show a photo ID at the primary election, but if they don't have one, they cannot be denied a ballot, Magney said. Everyone voting in those elections will be given information about photo IDs. Photo IDs will be a requirement starting in February 2012.

Poll workers will check the name and photograph on the ID, Magney said, not addresses. In addition to drivers' licenses, state-issued voter identification cards, passports and military identification cards are among the list of acceptable identification.

Voter registration, which was wide open in the past right up to and including the day of an election, is restricted for the upcoming primary and all elections thereafter. Voters may register through July 8. Registration will close at the end of that business day and reopen at the polls July 12.

Absentee voting changes, too

Absentee voting changes are also in effect for this election. In person absentee voting began June 27, the Monday two weeks before an election, and ends at the close of the business day July 8, the Friday before the election.

"I look on that as helping me," Brown Deer Clerk Jill Kenda-Lubetski said. "That gives me a break to get the poll books up to date."

As to the other changes, Kenda-Lubetski and other clerks are preparing for a lot of questions and slower than normal voting lines as poll workers and voters adjust to the changes.

Those who vote absentee by mail will not notice any changes until 2012 when they will be required to provide a photo ID. Details of that are yet to be worked out.

The law also requires all voters to sign the poll book before receiving a ballot. The poll book pages have been designed so the book may be pushed back and forth across the table, between poll worker and voter, rather than turning the book around.

"The idea is that people are more likely to sign by their own name and help avoid an error," Magney said. "The signature would also be additional forensic evidence in case of fraud."

Sometimes, he said, poll workers have inadvertently marked the wrong slot when recording a voter number. When the actual voter came to vote, it appeared he/she had already voted. The signature is an attempt to eliminate that error, he said.

If you want to read more about changes to the law, go to gab.wi.gov/node/1593.

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