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Wisconsin Voter Photo ID: Legislative History and Background

About This Page

This page contains historical information about passage and implementation of the photo ID law.  It is not the most current information about the state of the law in effect as of April 2015.  For the latest information, click here.

Consistent with its statutory responsibility to administer and enforce the State’s election laws, the Government Accountability Board provided  information and expertise to inform the policy discussion, and to identify issues that needed to be addressed at the State and local levels in the practical implementation of a photo ID requirement.

G.A.B. Analysis of Voter Photo ID Bill signed by Governor

Posted in
May 24, 2011
Staff analysis of Assembly Bill 7 signed by Governor on May 25
JCF Assembly Substitute Amendment Bill Analysis for Public.pdf36.16 KB

Letter to Assembly Elections Committee re AB7

Posted in
May 3, 2011
Letter from Kevin J. Kennedy to Wisconsin Assembly Elections Committee regarding amendments to the voter photo ID bill.
Letter to Assembly Elections Committee 5 3 11.pdf49.48 KB

Testimony to Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform

Posted in
April 27, 2011
Written testimony by Kevin Kennedy provided to the Committee on 2011 Assembly Bill 7 related to voter identification.
KJK Assembly Committee Testimony 4.27.11.pdf45.56 KB

Senate Action Regarding Photo ID Legislation

Posted in
February 25, 2011
Memo summarizing changes to Photo ID Legislation

Memo to State Senate re: Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 6

Posted in
February 24, 2011
Memo from Kevin J. Kennedy to Wisconsin State Senate regarding technical changes to the voter photo ID bill.

Testimony of Kevin Kennedy on SB 6 - Voter Photo ID bill

Posted in
January 26, 2011
Testimony to Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections and Fiscal Estimate

Working List of Voter Photo ID Policy and Implementation Issues

A.  Required Form of Identification

1.    What type of Photo ID will be accepted, i.e. driver license or DOT-issued ID, government (municipal, state, federal) issued ID, passport, military ID, university/college student ID, other?

2.    How must the name on the Photo ID conform to the name on the voter list?  Must it be exact, or a variation?

3.    How will the legislation affect women, who are statistically more likely to have a name change?

State Map of Voter ID Rules -- 2010

        Required of all voters; photo and non-photo verification accepted.
Photo identification required; voters without photo identification can cast provisional ballots. These ballots are verified and counted based on state regulations.
Photo identification requested of all voters; voters without photo identification can sign affidavits and cast regular (non-provisional ballots).
Required of all first-time voters.
Minimum HAVA requirements in place.  Verification required of first-time voters who registered by mail and did provide verification with their registration application.

Source: Pew Center on the States

Brief History of Recent Voter ID Legislation in Wisconsin

Following is a listing of all introduced legislation related to voter identification requirements since the 1999-2000 legislative session.  Except where indicated, the bill failed to pass both the Assembly and the Senate.

1999-2000 Session


Research on voter identification laws

Professors Barry C. Burden, David T. Canon, Kenneth R. Mayer and Donald P. Moynihan of the UW-Madison Department of Political Science and La Follette School of Public Affairs have researched voter identification laws.

Attached below is their brief summary of what is known from academic research on voter ID laws in other states.

Core Principles for Voter Photo ID

The Government Accountability Board staff recommends the following core principles be considered for guiding the development of Wisconsin’s Voter Photo ID legislation.  The Photo ID legislation should:

  • Make clear the purpose and legislative intent of the legislation;
  • Ensure the most vulnerable (non-traditional) voters are not disenfranchised;
  • Make Photo IDs free and accessible to voters;
  • Offer an alternative (a certificate or an affidavit in lieu of a Photo ID) for Wisconsin residents who object to being photographed based on religious, historical or cultural grounds, i.e. Native Americans; and,
  • Provide a sufficient amount of time between passage of the Photo ID legislation and effective implementation date to accommodate training of local election officials and educating the public.