World didn’t end because voters needed IDsPoor old Harold Camping finally has some company. Camping is the doomsday prophet who repeatedly predicted the end of the world. First, we were all doomed in 1994. Then we were all doomed in May 2011. Then, we were all doomed Oct. 21.
By: By Mike Nichols, Superior Telegram
Poor old Harold Camping finally has some company.
Camping is the doomsday prophet who repeatedly predicted the end of the world. First, we were all doomed in 1994. Then we were all doomed in May 2011. Then, we were all doomed Oct. 21.
The apocalypse never did arrive — although, in fairness to Camping, that was the weekend Michigan State buried the Badgers with that excruciating Hail Mary on the last play of the game.
Camping is not a Wisconsinite. But there were plenty of other Chicken Littles here who claimed the advent of Voter ID would be the end of life as we know it. Opponents — some of whom have sued — say they are “appalled” at how hard it is to get an acceptable ID, call the requirement to produce an ID a “poll tax,” “voter suppression,” a return to “Jim Crow,” shameful, and an attempt to let only a “select club” vote.
In sum, the sky is falling.
The skies on Feb. 21 — primary day — did look a little ominous. So, I drove to Sheboygan and stood in the rain outside Immaculate Conception Parish on Henry Street, a polling place in a neighborhood of modest, $100,000 homes. I figured if the Rapture really was upon us that was as good a spot to be as any.
I interviewed the first 12 voters who would talk to me, six independents, four Republicans and two Democrats. Turned out that showing an ID didn’t come close to killing any of them — although Denise Glavan, an independent, did have some discomfort.
“A pain,” she said, “in my hinder.”
One other voter called it “stupid.” But everybody else either thought it was a good idea and cut down on the possibility of voter fraud, or couldn’t have cared less. Aside from the issue with Glavan’s hinder, there was basically a lot of shrugging.
The story was the same all over. In Wausau, the headline was, “Voter ID law causes no issues in local primary elections.” In Janesville, it was, “Vote went smooth under new rules.” In Green Bay, the Press-Gazette reported that poll workers “didn’t have any problems with the voter ID rule . . .”
There were a few people around the state who voted — or didn’t vote — in protest.
But, “for the most part, things went very well. People were ready with their IDs and ready to show it,” said Sue Edman, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission. There were “very few” who had to vote provisionally — that is, cast a ballot but have it sealed until they could return within three days with a valid ID, according to Edman. And, she said, there were “very few” who had to be turned away because they didn’t want to vote provisionally or didn’t have an ID they could return with.
There has been a lot of concern about folks on the fringes of society. But even the Rescue Mission, a shelter for the homeless in Milwaukee, requires those who want a bed to show a state ID, or work with the shelter to quickly get one.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network is among the groups that filed suit. The League still considers the law “unneeded, unfair and expensive in terms of tax dollars,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director. Reached the day after the election, she conceded she hadn’t heard of any specific instances of disenfranchisement, but said that wasn’t surprising given the possibility that some folks might no longer even try to vote and the fact it was a low turn-out, spring primary.
Just cuz the world didn’t end on a Tuesday in February, I guess that means, doesn’t guarantee we won’t be doomed next election day.
Even Harold Camping got three tries, after all, before admitting his predictions seemed sort of embarrassing.
Mike Nichols is a syndicated columnist who spent 18 years writing about Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is now a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. This column represents only his personal opinion. Contact him at MRNichols@wi.rr.com.