The Republican authors of a new voter ID bill that passed the state Assembly, but not the Senate, said Tuesday they plan to reintroduce the legislation after the November elections.
Reps. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, and Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, wrote in a column they distributed by email that they believe their bill is constitutional because it’s based on an Indiana law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Born and Schraa also responded to a criticism of their bill by state Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, who is running for Congress and authored the state’s current voter ID law that passed in 2011.
Leibham said last week, after a federal judge struck down the law, that he believes the current law is constitutional and the new bill would create “such a big loophole in the voter ID requirement” that the system would be “substantially similar to the one we have now.”
“Despite the senator’s claims, our bill is right for Wisconsin,” Born and Schraa wrote. “We will re-introduce it next session because our elections are too important to let a system ripe for fraud to continue any longer.”
In response, Leibham softened his tone, saying the Born/Schraa bill “and other concepts should be explored.”
“Unfortunately, I remain skeptical that any photo ID requirement will be allowed to be implemented under the Obama administration and absent any federal court reform,” Leibham said.
The 2011 voter ID law is being challenged in state and federal court. Gov. Scott Walker and Republican leaders had said they hoped to reconvene the Legislature before the November election to take up the voter ID issue based on rulings from state and federal courts.
But last week U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act and left little hope for a legislative fix. The state Supreme Court has yet to rule.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said after the Adelman ruling he would continue to pursue a special session this year, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said a special session would not happen before November.
The Born/Schraa bill would allow those who are financially indigent, have a religious objection or who lack the original documents required to obtain a photo ID to sign an affidavit when they vote instead of presenting a photo ID.
“Our approach to the voter ID law is constitutionally tested and would finally allow poll workers to ask voters for identification, something that is currently illegal in Wisconsin,” Born and Schraa wrote. “We refuse to wait on the sidelines for the courts to rule in a process that could take years, when we can pass a proven voter ID law. Election integrity is too important. We will continue our fight to pass and implement a voter ID law in Wisconsin next session.”
The bill passed the Assembly 54-38, but did not receive a vote in the Senate.
In his ruling, Adelman said the voter ID law disproportionately affects minority voters, who are more likely than white voters to be poor, less likely to have the required ID and less likely to drive.
Based on witness testimony that there is little evidence of voters trying to impersonate someone else, Adelman wrote “no rational person familiar with relevant facts could be concerned about them.”