The state elections board will ask lawmakers for $250,000 to publicize Wisconsin’s new voter ID requirement in the lead-up to the November election.
The co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget panel, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said Tuesday that he expects it to “seriously consider” the request.
Providing “$250,000, to assure every vote is counted, I don’t think is a problem,” Nygren told the Wisconsin State Journal.
The Government Accountability Board approved the request on a 4-2 vote at its regular meeting Tuesday. Judges Harold Froehlich and Timothy Vocke were the dissenting votes.
The vote means the board will ask the Joint Finance Committee for the funds, likely later this spring, board spokesman Reid Magney said.
The board developed an ad campaign to raise awareness of the requirement but said it doesn’t have the money to put it on the airwaves.
Wisconsin’s requirement for voters to show photo IDs at the polls is in effect in statewide elections for the first time this year. It was approved in 2011 but largely has not been in effect since, due to a string of court challenges.
Voter ID critics have said a public awareness campaign is critical to ensuring all voters know the requirement will be in place for the high-turnout presidential election. State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, a finance committee member, urged the board Tuesday to request money for what she described as a “desperately needed campaign.”
Supporters of voter ID have said the requirement has been widely publicized and debated in the five years since Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law.
The vote comes as the board nears its expiration date. New elections and ethics commissions, created by Walker and Republican lawmakers, will replace the board on June 30.
The new commissioners attended and participated in Tuesday’s meeting. Election commissioner Ann Jacobs, a Democratic appointee, suggested there could be value in an education campaign for the many voters who participate only in presidential elections.
“We have a surprising number of people who are four-year voters,” Jacobs said.
Froehlich dismissed the notion that lawmakers, if they had $250,000 to spend, would put it toward voter ID awareness.
“We’re spinning our wheels asking for money,” Froehlich said.
Lawmakers provided $436,000 for a public education campaign in 2011 when the voter ID law was enacted.
The board spent about $181,000 of that crafting much of the ad campaign for which it will seek funding. But a 2012 court order halted the implementation of voter ID, and what was left of that money was spent elsewhere or returned to the state treasury.