Report shows confusion with voter I.D. law during recall elections

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Come next year, all Wisconsin voters will have to bring a valid I.D. to the polls in order to vote.

Republicans say Wisconsin’s voter I.D. law helps stop voter fraud. 

Last August’s recall election was a test trial for implementing the new law. Poll workers were required to ask but voters didn’t have to show their I.D. if they didn’t want to. The League of Women Voters released an observer’s report on how the test trial went.

“It was quick and easy,” said Steve Hysel said on his experience voting in last August’s recall election. 

“It was a long wait” said Alethia Kenworthy.

Opal Tulpo decided not to show her ID in the recall election but also didn’t run into any major problems. “I just said no and they were like okay.”

La Crosse County didn’t report any major problems, but it was a much different story in other parts of the state.

“In some places in about a quarter of the polling sites officials were inconsistent in asking voters to show I.D.,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. 

“The officials were asking for I.D.’s and then they were refusing to give a ballot to people who didn’t show it,” she added. 


The League of Women Voters trained more than 130 volunteers to observe the implementation of the law in 94 different polling stations across the state. Those volunteers looked at things like how election officials asked to see I.D.’s, whether or not officials knew what to do when someone refused, and how long it took for people to vote. What they found was that the voting process became more complicated than it needed to be.

“There was confusion both on the part of election officials and the poll workers in the poll and also the voters as to what kind of I.D. is needed and we also found that some of the new procedures, showing the I.D. and signing the poll book led to longer lines,” Kaminski said.

The La Crosse County Clerk says it wasn’t so much confusion about the voter I.D. law that caused long lines at the polls in our area but rather not having enough poll workers.

“That was kind of due to such a high turnout of voters that maybe we weren’t expecting and also signing the poll books but signing the poll book is just going to take time but we’ll work on things and try to get them to run smoother for next year’s elections,” said Ginny Dankmeyer, La Crosse County Clerk. 

The League of Women voters is also working to make sure changes are made before voters are actually required to show their I.D.’s at the polls.

“We met with state elected officials at the Government Accountability Board and we gave them some recommendations on some ways that the poll workers can help make the flow of the voting move more smoothly,” Kaminski said.