A year ago, Wisconsin Republicans pushed through Assembly Bill 7, which enacted one of the worst forms of voter ID in the nation. Since then, two state judges have blocked voter ID from taking effect because the Wisconsin state Constitution guarantees that “[e]very United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district,” regardless of whether or not they have an ID.
However, a little-noticed provision in AB 7 will likely prevent thousands of college students from voting in today’s recall election.
Section 12 of the new law increases the time period a citizen must live in one location in order to register there from 10 days to 28 days. Though seemingly innocuous, the problem is that the five largest colleges in Wisconsin — University of Wisconsin-Madison (40,000 students), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (27,500 students), Marquette University (11,500 students), University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (11,500 students), and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (11,000 students) — all had their graduations either the weekend of May 12 or the weekend of May 19, 24 days and 17 days ago, respectively.
Therefore, any student at these schools who registered to vote at school but is now home for the summer will not be permitted to update their registration at their parents’ house because they will have been home for less than 28 days. Under the old law, a student not on campus for the summer would have been permitted to update her registration at the polls and vote because she will have been home (or elsewhere off-campus) for more than 10 days.
As a result, thousands of Wisconsin students will likely be barred from taking part in today’s recall vote.
Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette worried about the impact it could have on turnout. “It will really have a negative impact among college students,” LaFollette told ThinkProgress.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that over 200 students “reported confusion at the polls Tuesday, and many left without casting a vote” because of the state’s 28-day residency requirement. This is just the number of students who reported their problems voting; the actual number of students who were unable to vote is likely much higher.