Wisconsin Lawmakers OK Funding For Voter ID Education Campaign

State Finance Committee Unanimously Approves GAB Request

Laura Zimmerman/WPR

Update: This story has been updated to reflect the Joint Finance Committee’s vote.

The state’s budget committee voted Monday to approve a funding request for a statewide education campaign on Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

The state elections board requested $250,000 to pay for TV, radio and online advertisements across the state, reminding voters to bring their photo ID to the polls.

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Many state lawmakers and the governor have voiced their support for the campaign, and the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee ended up voting 15-0 in favor.

Some advocacy groups have claimed Wisconsin’s voter ID law places a disproportionate burden on certain populations, including minorities, young people and the elderly.

“If we come up with a piece of legislation, and the result of that legislation is somebody who fought in World War II can’t vote, we did wrong,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, during Monday’s committee meeting. “We did wrong. And so it is incumbent upon us to put as much money in here as we people can to get the word out.”

Opponents said the campaign is a waste of money and that it should have a tighter focus on individuals the state knows don’t have the proper ID for voting.

“How hard is it to say let’s just identify those people? We could easily do it, and let’s just send them a letter,” said Hudson Republican Rep. Dean Knudson.

Last week, Knudson also pointed out that no campaign could be truly “statewide,” as television and radio markets don’t reach all Wisconsin residents, particularly those who live on the border of Minnesota.

“You can always find more that you can do,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, which requested the funds. “You try to figure out what’s the best use of your money and your resources within that time period.”

The campaign is set to run from July until November.