The University of Wisconsin-Madison has made clear its stance on the voter ID process for college students with the decision to keep its campus card outside the compliance requirements.
Per a report from The Daily Cardinal, Wisconsin has offered a separate, free voter ID card for its students dating back to 2012. The issuance of the voter IDs was approved by the Government Accountability Board, a non-partisan committee that enforces Wisconsin campaign finance, elections, ethics and lobbying law.
This means, however, that Wisconsin-Madison’s student ID, the Wiscard, will remain not-compliant with voter ID requirements. That decision is a purposeful one, according to John Lucas, executive director of university communications at UW-Madison, stating that voter ID would bring “multiple concerns” to both students and the university if made permissible.
As with many campus cards, Wisconsin’s Wiscard is used for access to dormitories and academic secure buildings, along with a host of other on-campus utilities. Lucas says that adding a signature to make the Wiscard voter ID compliant would increase privacy and security risks to students.
Moreover, voter IDs must currently be updated every two years, whereas the university’s Wiscard carries an expiration date of five years. University officials say that replacing Wiscards every two years would run the university an estimated $2 million over five years.
But politically active students aren’t convinced. Student group UW-Madison College Democrats and the College Republicans of UW-Madison are urging the university to gradually phase out the current student ID cards with one that is voter ID complaint. In the meantime, the group has proposed that stickers be added to the current ID cards — one for a student signature and one to denote a two-year expiration date. This, as the group argues, would make current Wiscards acceptable as voter IDs.
Increasing voter turnout is certainly a worthy cause, but is a cheaper option to make current cards voter ID complaint the best course of action? The university stands firm on the issue and likely for good reason.