Polls closed, election officials say new Voter ID Law test went well

MILWAUKEE -- Election officials were pleasantly surprised during Tuesday's primary with how voters are handling the changes brought on by the new Voter ID Law, which took effect for the first time. Tuesday's primary was considered a low-turnout election, so the smaller number turning out Tuesday tended to be the more prepared, devoted voters. The real test of the new law and the challenges it may bring may come this spring or fall.

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Election officials say Tuesday's primary was a good "test run" for the new Voter ID Law in advance of the presidential primary April 3rd.

Only three to five percent of Milwaukee voters were expected to cast a ballot Tuesday and take part in the new voter ID checks. Some said they dislike the changes. "The only reason it's not bad is because there's nobody here," Albert Solochek said. "I don't agree with the policy. I think it's prejudicial," Joyce Solochek said.

Others don't think the changes are a big deal. "I didn't think there would be a problem. It's the law in a lot of states," Paul Sicula said.

To get a ballot, voters had to provide either a valid driver's license, a passport, a tribal ID or naturalization papers. Some student IDs are also acceptable, provided students bring a separate document that proves enrollment.

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Sue Edman says most voters had their IDs ready Tuesday, and says there were more problems with ballot machines and new redistricting maps than the new Voter ID Law. "For the most part, it's going very, very well. It's really been the least of our concerns today," Edman said.

The inner-city coalition MICAH has been a vocal opponent of the Voter ID Law, and offered free rides to people wanting to get proper IDs for voting Tuesday. "We haven't gotten a huge volume of calls, but that could definitely be attributed to a very low turnout election," Mandella Barnes with MICAH said.

Supporters of the new law say it eliminates fraud. Opponents say it will suppress voter turnout. Election officials say the real test of the new law comes in April. "April is going to be a very busy election, and if we have a recall, that's going to be very busy, so by the time the presidential election arrives, we should be in very good shape," Edman said.

As of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, MICAH only had one taker for the free rides to get IDs.

The Milwaukee Election Commission took a few calls Tuesday regarding the law changes, and at least one woman was turned away earlier Tuesday, for trying to vote with an ID card from 1970.

It is possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID, but the vote won't be counted until there is proof of identification.

Also new Tuesday - voters must sign for their ballots. "Everyone is required to sign the poll book (to vote), those who refuse to sign the poll book will not be given a ballot," says Executive Director Sue Edman.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

CLICK HERE for additional details on Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law and what to bring to the polls.

CLICK HERE for information from the DMV website on how to obtain a valid voter ID.

CLICK HERE for information about the Voter ID Law via the GAB’s website.