Voter ID law gets first test on Tuesday

MILWAUKEE -- 522 Wisconsin municipalities will hold primary elections Tuesday. Election officials say they're ready for the state's new Voter ID Law to take effect. They say the low turnout expected will be a good practice run for the presidential primary on April 3rd.

For the first time in state history, Wisconsin voters will have to show ID to cast a ballot - beginning with Tuesday's primary election. "Thank goodness it's not one of our biggest elections. It's just a chance for everyone to get used to the process and tweak things as we move along," Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Sue Edman said.

To get a ballot, voters need either a valid driver's license, a passport, a tribal ID or naturalization papers. A student ID is acceptable if it shows a current address, birthdate, signature and expiration date. Students must also have a separate document that proves enrollment.

CLICK HERE for information from the Government Accountability Board on what to bring to the polls.

CLICK HERE for information from the Wisconsin DMV website on obtaining a valid voter ID.

Also new beginning with Tuesday's primary - voters must sign for their ballots. "Everyone is required to sign the poll book Tuesday, and those who refuse to sign the poll book will not be given a ballot," Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Sue Edman said.

Edman says it is possible to cast a provisional ballot without the required voter ID, but the vote won't be counted until there's proof of ID provided by the voter. "You have until eight o'clock on Election Day to return to the polls and we'll process your ballot, or you have until four o'clock on the Friday after Election Day to present the photo ID to my staff," Edman said.

Some voters support the new Voter ID Law, saying it will eliminate fraud. "It seems only reasonable that you would show an ID when you're voting. It's such an important act. You have to show ID to buy cold medicine over at Walgreens," Shelly Soderstrom said.

Other voters are concerned the new law could suppress voter turnout. "I think they're doing it to deter some people from voting, especially older people and minority people. I think that's awful," Ruby Hanyard said.

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines agrees. "It will make it difficult for minorities and elderly individuals, so it's going to create impediments and suppress the votes," Hines said.

Edman says she doesn't expect these new requirements will keep people from the polls, saying "if anything, (people) are more fired up."

Edman says because of the charged political climate, as many as seven to nine percent of voters in the city of Milwaukee could show up at the polls for Tuesday's primary - some 24,000 people. That's nearly three times as many as a typical municipal primary.

The city of Milwaukee sent out 162,000 notification cards to voters who live in wards where the boundaries have changed, due to redistricting.