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To meet the requirements of Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law, the UW offered students a special identification that includes the student’s name, photo, signature, date issued, and expiration date.

The UW sees a slow but steady demand for voter IDs.

With elections pending in both the summer and fall, and a new law designed to combat ballot box fraud, the university began issuing voter ID cards to students in the spring. Between January 23, when the cards were first distributed, and early May, students had requested some 549 ID cards.

In 2011, the Wisconsin state legislature passed a law requiring that all residents present a government-issued photo identification — such as a driver’s license or passport — to vote in elections. The UW student ID card didn’t meet all of the law’s requirements, and so in January 2012, the UW received permission from the state’s Government Accountability Board to issue special voter ID cards free of charge to students who requested them.

Still, less than 2 percent of the student body has asked for a voter ID.

“I don’t think we had a good idea of how many people would be running in here,” says James Wysocky, who works in administration and marketing for campus cards at the Wisconsin Union. “We didn’t expect a significant volume, as most students have a driver’s license or passport. That’s why we didn’t redesign the student ID but issued a separate voter ID instead.”

The cards, shown here, were used for February elections. However, they weren’t required for April votes, after a Dane County judge issued an injunction barring enforcement of the law over concerns that it may violate voters’ rights. The law will likely not be in force for the recall election of Governor Scott Walker in June. It was unclear at press time whether the voter ID law will be in effect for the national elections in November.

“Nothing has changed from our perspective,” says Wysocky. “We’ve been anticipating that this might go back and forth for some time, and we want to be sure that students can get what they need to vote, no matter what happens.”

Published in the Summer 2012 issue

Tags: politics, Student life

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