State, counties spread misinformation, may discourage many from getting voter IDs | WisCommunity

State, counties spread misinformation, may discourage many from getting voter IDs

There's a pretty big undercovered, or practically uncovered, story on voter ID that a citizen activist has unearthed, but which for some reason has not yet gotten much attention from the news media.

State law doesn't require a photo ID to get a birth certificate, but 2/3 of Wisconsin counties are using forms that say one is required. Even Government Accountability Board has the wrong form on its website, and says it can't do anything to get the counties to change what they're doing.

Richard Pinney, a Milwaukee website designer built this website, to help people get a voter ID, but in the process found the snafu:

Wisconsin State Agencies and Counties promote a Catch-22: You need a photo ID to get a photo ID

Voters who need a birth certificate to prove name and birth date for a voter ID may be led to believe the task is impossible. Most of the state’s official mail-in forms for the birth record require photo IDs themselves, although the law doesn't require that. The Catch-22 could result in applicants giving up in confusion and make getting a photo ID for voting appear to be more problematic than it is.

In a systemic state-wide failure, the Election Division of the Government Accountability Board, the Department of Health Services, 48 counties and the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association all post a website link to a mail-in form for birth certificates that explicitly requires attaching a copy of a current valid photo ID.

Here's a link to the The full report is

And here is a story from the , one of the few media outlets to report it so far:

Reid Magney with the Government Accountability Board makes it perfectly clear; citizens can get a birth certificate without having a photo ID. “State law does not require you to provide a photo ID when you apply for a birth certificate by mail from the state. Some counties may require it, but the state does not require it. If you go in there in person, you’re gonna have to show a photo ID.”

Regarding the inconsistency in what is stated on the forms versus the actual law, Magney says the GAB doesn’t have control over the state’s 72 counties and the forms they make available to the public. He says they do try to provide information to people to get what they need to vote. Reid says “it’s (their) mission.”


December 5, 2011 - 4:36pm