Court document: Rural residents can’t easily get ID needed to vote

Organization alleges part-time DMVs restrict access to ID cards
Court document: Rural residents can’t easily get ID needed to vote

A liberal group filed a brief with a federal appeals court over Wisconsin’s voter ID law Monday.

The brief, filed by One Wisconsin Institute, alleges that state residents can’t easily obtain an ID needed to vote, especially those who live in a rural area. That’s because DMV offices in rural Wisconsin are often open on a part-time basis.

“There are a couple places where people may only be able to have one or two chances before the election to be able to get the IDs they need to be able to participate in our democracy,” said Scot Ross, executive director for One Wisconsin Institute.

Wisconsin DMV offices are required by law to be open at least 20 hours a week. DMV directors said that’s more than enough for a rural office with slow traffic.

“Those offices are not high-value offices,” said Jim Miller, DMV director of field services. “[They see] 20 to 25 [voter ID] applications a day, so even if you double that, you wouldn’t be looking at a whole lot.”

One Wisconsin Institute officials said less access to the DMV translates into less access to the polls.

“People aren’t able to, if they’re working full time, be able to get the full ID, and so that’s a big impediment,” Ross said. “We have had people who’ve reached out to us to say, ‘I’m concerned whether or not I’m going to be able to go and get my ID,’ because of the fact that they live in a place that doesn’t have the sort of hours that are necessary.”

However, the DMV maintains it hasn’t seen any problems and doesn’t anticipate many in the near future.

“There hasn’t been any significant bump in the number of ID cards. If there is, we feel like we’re prepared to handle it,” Miller said.

Altogether, DMV officials said it’s issued about a thousand ID cards to Wisconsin residents in the past week. In Monroe, workers have issued between 10 and 20 IDs.