Wisconsin's Green Party has added its opposition to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's efforts to require more checks of voter identification against driver's license records, a move the Greens say will disenfranchise voters in November.
Van Hollen, a Republican, and the chair of the statewide McCain presidential campaign is suing for an emergency "no match, no vote" provision in state regulations in time for the November election.
The Greens say:
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have rejected making matching a precondition to registration and voting. Only four states -- Florida, Iowa, Louisiana and South Dakota -- prevent unmatched voters from casting a ballot, and Florida's law has been in litigation for over a year. Washington agreed to abandon a similar law after it was struck down in federal court.
If the "no match, no vote" provision were adopted, those voters whose names or addresses in the statewide voter registration database required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) do not exactly match with those in the Department of Transportation database would become unregistered, and would need to reregister at the polls, or cast provisional ballots. To reregister, voters would need to have proof of identity and residence on Election Day - something Wisconsin voters are not used to doing. If non-matched voters don't have such validation with them on Election Day, they can cast a provisional ballot, and then return to the poll that day, or to their clerk's office by 4 PM the next day in order to have their vote counted.
More than 1 out of 5 new registrations that have been cross-checked by Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board (GAB) since Aug. 6 are showing problems; in fact, four of the 6 GAB members, who are judges, did not pass the database check.
If Van Hollen succeeds, thousands of voters will be at risk of becoming unregistered because of bureaucratic typos such as missed spellings, hyphens, and differences in spacing.
In California, which had a similar rule but has since dropped it, the LA Times reported that 43 percent of people who registered to vote in Los Angeles County during the first quarter of 2006 were deemed ineligible by the state's new database system.
Wisconsin is matching databases as the HAVA requires. But HAVA does not require that people with non-matching data be disqualified from casting a regular ballot on election day.
"This provision would affect those that divorce during the year, college students, and domestic abuse victims, to name just a few," said Robin Lutz, co- treasurer of the Wisconsin Green Party. "Last year my name changed and I got a new drivers license. Several months later, I moved a few houses down the street. I got a new drivers' license when my name changed, but not when I moved. How many people are like me? This is a terrible shift for Wisconsin that will disastrously disenfranchise thousands of voters."
Voting rights are one of the key issues for Cynthia McKinney, the Green presidential candidate. "I have long been a supporter of publicly financed elections. I have advocated same-day voter registration. I voted in opposition to requiring photo ID for voting in federal elections."
"Republican efforts to establish a voter ID requirement, purportedly enacted to address voter fraud, are an attempt to disenfranchise voters as well," said Pete Karas, former Racine Councilman who is chair of the Racine Green Party. "But voter fraud has been shown to be virtually non-existent in our state. Governor Doyle vetoed such an effort in Wisconsin."
"Republicans are again trying to take the election unfairly by disenfranchising voters in swing states like Wisconsin," said Karas. "They have succeeded in stealing the last two presidential elections -- and they are trying it again."