While questions over the constitutionality of the state’s voter ID law are still being decided by the judicial system, UWSP Student Government Association officials are saying the campus is ready in the event the law is upheld.
The voter ID law outlines specific requirements for UW System ID cards to be used during elections, namely an expiration date two years from the issuance of the card, and the student’s signature.
The current ID cards that the university issues to all students do not meet the conditions outlined in the legislation to be compliant for use at the polls on Election Day.
This has prompted the university to design a new ID card that would be available to students, for free, upon request. The University Centers is currently paying the costs for the new IDs, which cost less than $5 per ID to produce, according to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Al Thompson.
Requiring students to pay the costs could potentially constitute a poll tax, and violate the twenty-fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
These new ID cards would only be used for voting, and would not replace the traditional ID cards issued to students.
SGA officials identified the costs to the university would be too great to have these new IDs replace the current ones, namely because of them expiring every two years and the fact that not every student that attends UWSP would need a voter ID from the university.
Lindsey Brick, the outgoing Legislative Affairs Director for SGA, says 85 percent of UWSP students are from Wisconsin, and as such would be eligible to receive a free ID card from the Department of Motor Vehicles upon request.
SGA says the Government Accountability Board, the non-partisan committee that oversees elections in Wisconsin, approved the new ID cards.
If the voter ID law is upheld by the courts, students wishing to use the ID card issued by the university would also need to produce a university issued letter stating the student is currently enrolled for the time period that the election is being held.
This letter can already be accessed by students through the academics tab on their myPoint, SGA officials said.
However, two separate university-issued ID cards could cause confusion for students over whether they have the proper one to be used during elections.
“If voter ID were to go into effect, I would rather have it be standardized,” said Seth Hoffmeister, SGA President for 2012-2013.
Students who have lost their current university ID card, and need a new one, currently have to pay $10 to replace it.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a memo when the voter ID law was being debated, stating it would cost the entire UW System $300,000 to issue brand new IDs to students every two years.
Logan T. Carlson