Study to examine if Voter ID reduced Wisconsin turnout

Most counties see decline in turnout from 2012

The Dane County Clerk said a new study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison will look at whether the new Voter ID law reduced turnout on Election Day in Wisconsin.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell said the study will review the impact of the new law, and will focus on Dane and Milwaukee counties.

Milwaukee County saw 60,000 fewer votes in 2016, compared to 2012. In Dane County, turnout was up slightly, but down among registered voters from 2012.

“Overall, the election went off with very few problems,” said Dane County clerk Scott McDonell. “However, there were reports of voters who showed up to the polls with the wrong form of photo ID.  Some cast provision ballots while others simply left the polling place.  This study will move us from anecdotes to facts.” 

Turnout fell among young voters and African-Americans In Milwaukee County, but It’s not clear if the new voter ID laws made a difference.

“That is what we are trying to determine,” said Ken Mayer, a UW-Madison political science professor leading the study. “Right now, I’d say the survey is designed to capture any problems that might have occurred.”

Mayer said researchers will contact UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee students about their voting experiences, and use a mix of mailed surveys, phone calls and email to contact registered voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties who didn’t cast ballots last week. Mayer hopes to produce an initial report by next August.