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Friday, 25 March 2016 10:27

Have your ID ready: New rules in place for voters

Written by  Margaret Plevak
Reminders were posted at many polling places during the February primary, however, turnout April 5 is expected to be larger, so election officials are reminding voters to make sure they have an ID that will work. Reminders were posted at many polling places during the February primary, however, turnout April 5 is expected to be larger, so election officials are reminding voters to make sure they have an ID that will work. File photo

STATELINE NEWS -- If there’s a slight hiccup at the polls during the spring election on Tuesday, April 5, because of Wisconsin’s new voter photo ID law, Beloit City Clerk Lori Stottler and her crew of election workers are more than ready.

“We held a primary in February where photo ID was the law and it went relatively well with only one voter being unable to provide a valid photo ID and he chose not to vote,” Stottler said in an email. “His issue will be resolved now that SB295 has passed which, among other items, allows a veteran’s ID card to be used as valid photo ID.”

For the April election, as during the February primary, Wisconsin voters will need to bring a photo ID to the polls in order to cast a vote. A Wisconsin driver’s license or a Wisconsin ID card -- issued through Wisconsin Department of Transportation -- are both acceptable forms of photo ID. Other acceptable forms of photo ID can be found at http://bringit.wi.gov/. Your municipal clerk also may answer any questions.

“The people who will be most affected by this law are college students attending Wisconsin colleges from another state and the elderly who have surrendered their driver’s licenses,” Stottler said. “Some transient and homeless voters may be impacted as well, but they should know there are groups like the League of Women Voters who are willing to assist in making sure these people become equipped to vote.”

To aid voters, Stottler plans on stationing greeters at most of the nine polling locations in Beloit on election day.

“The greeter will make certain the voter is in the right place, ask them to be prepared with their photo ID and send them to the appropriate line for their ward,” she said. “This should help flow traffic and keep the poll book table from jamming up.”

Stottler expects to experience more provisional ballots for people who don’t bring or don’t have a photo ID on April 5. Provisional voters have until 5 p.m. Friday, April 8, to provide the clerk with a valid photo ID in order to have their ballots counted, she said.

Stottler said she’s appointed more than 160 volunteers to help with elections in the city of Beloit, and she’d like to get 10 to 12 more as alternates to staff the polls.

She had 18 poll workers choose not to return for reasons ranging from age to job commitments to the long hours at the polls and changing voter laws.

“It can be frustrating for these volunteers to feel appreciated when they have so much required of them and it seems we are consistently changing the process to keep up with the regulations and technology,” she said.

Stottler said turnout on April 5 could reach as high as 35 percent of eligible voters. While polling locations are staffed by ward to accommodate heavier turnouts, she said a higher turnout and the voter ID changes could cause some lines or a slight increase in wait times. That shouldn’t discourage voters from making the effort, she said.

“While voting for president in the fall is popular and important, spring elections are where your local leaders are elected,” Stottler said. “These nonpartisan people -- often your neighbors or colleagues at work -- are elected to set your local policy and ordinances which we live by. They decide on what is appropriate for business improvement in your city; they set the tax levy for the city and school budgets. They hire and supervise your city manager, school superintendent, chief of police and other key leaders.

“These locally elected people can have an impact not only on your wallet, but your family’s lifestyle choices and your children’s educational opportunities.”

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