Kevin Kennedy's Prepared Remarks on Voter ID for 9-16-2014 News Conference


Let me reiterate what I said on Friday after the court decision came down: We are taking every step to fully implement the voter ID law for the November General Election.

Implementing voter photo ID this close to an election will not be easy, but the G.A.B. and Wisconsin’s clerks are up to the challenge.

This is not the first time local election officials have been called upon to step up and serve the voters in a pinch.  We ask a lot of our local election officials – many of whom are part time—and we appreciate their efforts.  

Local election officials and our office will be making extraordinary efforts to ensure that all eligible voters are able to participate in the process and have their ballots counted.  

Here is what we’ve done and what we will be doing:

We are training clerks and election workers.  We have an excellent training staff, and we are leveraging the power of the Internet with webinars and online training videos.  Clerks and election workers were well trained for 2012, but there has been turnover since then.

We have developed extensive materials for clerks and the public about voter ID which will be posted to our website.

The most pressing problem now is absentee ballots.

The law is clear that most absentee ballots must be accompanied by a copy of the voter’s ID.  

We believe several thousand absentee ballots have already been mailed to voters without notification that they must provide a copy of their ID, but we do not have an exact number.  A few hundred absentee ballots have already been voted and returned to clerks.

On Friday we ordered clerks to stop sending out ballots until we could determine procedures for contacting voters about the need to provide a copy of photo ID.

Today we are providing guidance to clerks about how to deal with these absentee ballots as well as current requests for ballots that have not been mailed.  

For those ballots that have already gone out, clerks will have to contact voters and inform them they need to submit a copy of their photo ID before their vote will be counted. The G.A.B. has developed a communication for clerks to use.

For current absentee ballot requests that have been received, clerks will have to contact voters and inform them they need to submit a copy of their photo ID before the clerk will mail their ballot.

Going forward, all absentee ballot requests will have to include a copy of the voter’s photo ID, if required. If it is not included, clerks will follow up and inform them they need to submit a copy of their photo ID before the clerk will mail their absentee ballot.

Clerks will have to send voter ID instructions along with absentee ballots.  The G.A.B. has developed instructions for clerks to use.  

Some absentee voters do not need photo IDs.  These include military and overseas voters.  In Wisconsin, voters who are indefinitely confined due to illness, age, or infirmity do not need to provide a photo ID with their absentee ballot.  

These are the challenges we’re facing: Voters need to be reminded of the basics.

Most voters already have the ID they need to vote.  These include a Wisconsin driver license, state ID, temporary driver license or state ID receipt from the DMV, U.S. passport, military service ID, tribal ID or certificate of naturalization. Most people do not need to get a separate ID card to vote.

Voters who do need to can get an ID get a free ID at the Wisconsin DMV office, even if they do not have a birth certificate.

The address on your ID does not have to match the address on the poll list.

Your name on your ID does not have to match the poll list exactly.  For example, James works for Jim, Katherine for Katie, etc.  If one has your middle name and the other has your middle initial, that’s OK too.


For more information, contact

Reid Magney, Public Information Officer, 608-267-7887