DMVs voter ID

Employees help customers at the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles Madison East office in 2014. DMV offices are tasked with issuing voter ID cards for free to voters who need them.

AMBER ARNOLD — State Journal

A new report says seven Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles locations gave people seeking voter IDs false or incomplete information, in some cases contradicting a judge’s order for such IDs to be issued without delay.

It’s a sign that such misinformation — documented at a Madison DMV office in recordings released last week by a voting-rights group, and prompting federal Judge James Peterson to order an internal DMV probe — may be getting disseminated statewide.

While most Wisconsinites have IDs that meet the state’s voter ID requirement, some — most of them very poor or indigent people, minorities or students — do not. A smaller subset also lack the underlying documents, such as birth certificates or passports, required to obtain an ID from the state.

The newly released recordings document DMV workers telling people seeking an ID to vote that there is “no guarantees” they’ll get them in time for the Nov. 8 election, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

DMV workers in Black River Falls and Wisconsin Rapids reportedly told applicants, falsely, that no temporary voting credentials were available.

A worker in Neillsville reportedly said getting an ID without a birth certificate could take a few weeks. An emergency rule from Gov. Scott Walker in May directed the issuance of such credentials in six business days if the application for them is not rejected.

Some of the remarks captured in the recordings contradict Peterson’s July court order, issued in response to a legal challenge to the voter ID law by the liberal group One Wisconsin Institute. It instructed the Wisconsin DMV to promptly issue temporary voting credentials to people who lack a voter ID and enter a petition process for the state to provide them one.

The recordings were provided by VoteRiders, a national group that has been critical of — and works to help voters comply with — voter ID laws. The group has turned its focus in recent months to Wisconsin, home of one of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws, which is in place in a presidential election for the first time Nov. 8.

The Wisconsin State Journal sought information from VoteRiders last week and specifically requested the recordings Monday. VoteRiders declined to provide them.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said Monday that it cannot comment on the recordings referenced in the Journal Sentinel story “because we do not have them and have not heard them.”

“DMV remains committed to working with all eligible voters to ensure they receive identification for voting free of charge,” DOT spokeswoman Patty Mayers said in a statement.

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Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.