- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state elections board voted Tuesday to ask lawmakers for a quarter of a million dollars to revive its efforts to educate people about photo identification requirements at the polls ahead of the fall election season.

The Government Accountability Board mothballed its voter ID outreach campaign in 2012 after a court challenge blocked the requirement. A federal appellate court ultimately upheld the law in 2014 and it was in effect for both this past February’s primary and the April 6 general election, which included the presidential primary.

Democrats feared the voter ID law would prevent some people from voting, but the turnout was 47 percent in the April election, the highest since 1972. GAB officials have said things went smoothly for the most part, although some voters faced long lines and difficulties trying to obtain valid IDs, particularly college students. Most college IDs aren’t acceptable under the law, so University of Wisconsin schools provided students with free secondary IDs for voting.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, and Wisconsin League of Women Voters Andrea Kaminski asked the GAB on Tuesday morning to revive the education campaign, saying the law is confusing and convoluted. They argued turnout for the April election could have been even higher if more people understood the ID requirements and that even more people will likely vote in November.

GAB public information officer Reid Magney told the board that radio and TV ads from 2012 could be updated and re-used if the board had money to pay for air time.

That idea got a lukewarm response among board members. John Franke argued that if people don’t know by now that Wisconsin requires photo ID at the polls, more publicity likely won’t help them. People who were turned away this year probably fell prey to nuanced details - things that won’t be solved through broad publicity, he said.

Magney said the ads direct people to the GAB’s website, where they can learn more about the law’s nuances. In the end, the board voted 4-2 to ask for $250,000 from the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to re-start the campaign.

Board member Harold Froehlich said he doubted the committee would give the GAB any money.

The panel’s supplemental fund contains only $267,000 for all state agencies through the end of June 30, 2017. What’s more, Republicans control the panel and that party is far from pleased with the board after it helped Milwaukee prosecutors investigate Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign. Walker signed a bill last year that replaces the GAB with two partisan commissions as of July.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, serve as the finance committee’s co-chairs. A Darling spokesman said she wants to see the details of the request. Nygren’s spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a message.


Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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