Wisconsin Republicans Move To Make It Harder For Many College Students To Vote

This year, Wisconsin joined other GOP-led states in passing a highly restrictive voter ID law — one that not only disenfranchises low-income, minority, and senior voters, but places a serious burden on students hoping to vote by restricting the types of acceptable student IDs. Few institutions currently have IDs that comply with the law and now have to print stickers with required information for the IDs so they can be used at the polls. Even with this updated IDs, students “still have to show proof they were currently enrolled at school” to vote.

But while some students must jump these hurdles, Wisconsin election officials determined that students at technical colleges don’t even get to try — IDs issued by technical colleges are not valid for voting under any circumstance.

Recognizing its “mistake” in this prejudicial rule, the state’s Government Accountability Board “adopted an interpretation” of the law “that concluded technical college IDs qualify on election day just like any other four-year university ID.” Angry at the inclusive change, Republican lawmakers on the legislature’s rules committee voted 6-4 to force the GAB to make the new policy a formal administrative rule — a move that allows Walker to block the regulations:

The committee voted 6-4 to order the board to put all the policy in the form of administrative rules. The order would allow Walker to block the regulations. Republicans adopted a law earlier this year that requires the governor to either approve or reject all state agency rule proposals.[…]

Democrats on the committee accused Republicans of trying to disenfranchise technical college students and micromanaging elections.

“Why do you want to treat tech college students as second-class citizens?” Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, said.

If Republicans succeed with this maneuver, they will make it harder for 400,000 students to participate in elections. This, naturally, is not the first attempt by Wisconsin Republicans to suppress the vote. Wisconsin government officials recently attempted to prevent the public from learning about a free version of a voter-only ID.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed suit against the law last month as a violation of the state constitution which says only “felons and people ruled incompetent” can be prevented from voting. While the legislature may claim they can regulate elections via a voter ID law, “they can’t enact a voter ID law that creates a class of citizens that are disenfranchised.”