By Jon Bucklew
A recent voter identification law in Wisconsin has made it more difficult for certain types of residents to cast their votes. These groups generally include low-income residents, the elderly, and college students. College students specifically have taken up issue with this law, as they are newly becoming involved with politics, and some say they are already feeling discouraged from voting.
On May 25, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the new voter ID bill into law. This law tightened up the strictness of acceptable forms of identification used for registration and voting in Wisconsin. It requires voters to present a valid picture ID alongside proof of residence.
Supporters argue that the law was needed to cut down on voter fraud and to create a more accurate voting system. Those opposed to the law accused lawmakers of applying a Republican agenda, as voters affected by the law often vote Democrat, and making their voting process more difficult could deter them from voting.
New students and out-of-state students have found it especially difficult to obtain a valid Wisconsin ID as the process can often take a while and if not done promptly, can prohibit them from placing their vote. Awareness of the law also has played a big factor in its effect on students. During a recent randomsurvey of University of Wisconsin-Superior students, nearly three out of every five students had little knowledge of the law and how it affects them. That means that when it comes time to vote, many of these students will be denied their vote in Wisconsin due to lack of acceptable ID.
Students who know about the law said they felt discouraged and treated unfairly.
“I feel like they are making me jump through hoops so that I won’t use my vote in their state,” said Reyman Solis, who is from Illinois. This attitude reflects that of many of the out-of-state students, since they have to take more steps to register in Wisconsin.
“My ID expired and I’m not sure if I will be able to get a new one in time for the election,” said Nick Piazza, a UWS student from Madison, reflecting another problem faced by students who are in a period where many of their probationary driver’s licenses are expiring and they are applying for new ones.
Lack of awareness of this issue is a large contributor to the problems with the new voter ID law, and two UWS students offered suggestions. Emily Gregorson, a junior from Minnesota, thought there could be government programs to assist specific groups who are affected. Solis suggested that universities use advertising and assistance programs to make their students more aware.