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Wisconsin students request Wiscards be voter ID compliant

Andrew Hudson   ||   Sep 06, 2019  ||   ,

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are appealing to state lawmakers to make the university's student ID card, the Wiscard, a valid form of identification at the voting booth.

According to UW-Madison's student publication, The Daily Cardinal, the Associated Students of Madison has highlighted that the Wiscard can’t be used to register to vote or be used at the voting booth due to the lack of a cardholder signature, and a card expiration period of five rather than the required two year period for student IDs in Wisconsin state voting.

The student group passed non-binding legislation last week that urges state lawmakers and the university to work together to "make voting more accessible for students" by amending the student ID card in these two aspects.

The student group hopes that by getting a bill to pass the state legislature extending the voter ID expiration limit to five years instead of two, then UW-Madison would then agree to place student signatures on Wiscards. Amending these two factors would make the Wiscard a valid form of voter identification.

Since 2008, Wiscards have carried a 5-year expiration date from the time of issuance. Within this five year period, Wiscards remain valid so long as the cardholder is enrolled or has a valid university appointment. If a cardholder leaves the university and later returns to campus within that five year period, that same card can be reactivated.

The ASM has conceded that reprinting student ID cards every two years would be "an unlikely policy for UW-Madison to implement," as it costs $16 to reprint each Wiscard. But the student group notes that it could streamline the process having the Wiscard serve as a voter ID as it would eliminate the step of obtaining the separate voter ID card that the university issues.

It's worth noting too that students in Wisconsin attempting to use a university-issued ID card at the voting booth will still have to produce proof of residence and proof of enrollment along with their student ID.

Voter identification laws in the state of Wisconsin do allow a photo ID card issued by a Wisconsin accredited university, college, or technical college to be used at the polls. The student ID card must, however, contain the following:

  • Card issue date
  • Signature of student
  • Expiration date no later than two years after date of issuance (card may be expired)
  • The university or college ID must also be accompanied by a separate document that proves enrollment, e.g. a tuition fee receipt, enrollment verification letter, or class schedule.

While the Associated Students of Madison's proposed legislation does urge state lawmakers to take action, there are currently no bills in the state legislature to change the expiration date requirement of student ID cards for the purpose of voting.

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