Dear Editor: If the first week of the legislative session is any indication, taxpayers had better guard their wallets. Three initiatives to drastically change our elections were unveiled, and they are going to cost the taxpayer big money.
First, a bill was circulated that would end Election Day registration, which has been in place in Wisconsin since 1976. Because this would subject Wisconsin to the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, there is a big price tag. This bill does not yet have a fiscal note, but it has a similar impact to AB 158 from 2007. That bill would have had startup costs of $170,000. The ongoing costs of complying with the NVRA “motor-voter” provisions were listed as $747,000 each and every year.
Second, a bill was circulated that would require all citizens to have photo ID in order to vote. The fiscal note from a nearly identical bill (SB 199) from 2009 had a startup cost of $188,000. In addition, this bill would provide state ID cards at no charge, which would knock a $2 million hole in the annual Department of Transportation budget.
Third, the legislators gave a blank check to a private law firm. Their official written directive is to draw maps for redistricting. Their unwritten goal is to use taxpayer money to solidify power for the current majority by gerrymandering, a technique developed by Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts governor in the early 19th century.
Is this the fiscal restraint that you voted for?