Voter ID Law
Use of UW student ID cards for voter identification
These FAQs are provided as a follow up to OGC’s June 2, 2011, memo (enclosed) to the Chancellors regarding the new voter identification law, and how it may impact UW student IDs. Please contact Associate System Legal Counsel Matt Lind at (608) 890-3281 or at email@example.com or your campus legal counsel, if you have any further questions regarding the effect of the new voter identification law on UW institutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does the new Voter ID Law, 2011 Wis. Act 23, require UW institutions to do?
There are no mandatory requirements in 2011 Wis. Act 23 for any campus to take any action regarding student ID cards. Students may use their driver’s license, passport, or other qualifying documentation to prove both identity and residence at the polls, instead of using a voter identification compliant student ID card. However, to facilitate and encourage UW students to take an active role in their civic responsibilities in Wisconsin, campuses may take measures to bring their student IDs into compliance with the requirements for voter identification in 2011 Wis. Act 23.
- What elements must be included on a student ID card to comply with the new requirements for use as voter identification?
Voter identification compliant student ID cards must contain all of the following information:
- the student’s name,
- the date the card is issued,
- the date the card expires, which cannot be more than two years after the date the card is issued,
- a photo of the student, and
- the student’s signature.
Additionally, to prove identity or residence in order to vote, students must have some independent proof, besides their voter identification compliant student ID card, that they are enrolled at the institution issuing the ID card. Such documentation may be the inclusion of a student’s name on a current and certified housing roster provided by the institution’s registrar or a fee payment receipt from the institution dated no earlier than nine months before the current election.
- How should a UW student ID card satisfy the requirement in the new Wis. Stat. § 5.02(6m)(f) that it contain the signature of the individual to whom it is issued?
There is not currently any guidance from the Wisconsin Legislature or the Government Accountability Board about what it means for a student ID to contain the signature of the individual to whom it is issued. However, this requirement was included in the new Wis. Stat. § 5.02(6m)(f) partially out of a desire that student ID cards be similar to driver’s licenses for the purposes of verifying identity. Wisconsin driver’s licenses contain a computer printout of an electronic image of a driver’s signature that is laminated onto the card. Therefore, the most certain way to comply with this provision is for UW institutions to print a student’s signature onto the card in a similar manner.
However, that method is also the most expensive and the probably the most difficult to implement in a short time frame. If a UW institution is unable to purchase or adapt the technology to record electronic copies of students’ signatures on student ID cards, UW institutions should make an effort to witness students sign their student ID cards when issued. If this is impractical, possibly because student ID cards are printed by a third party vendor, such as a bank, then students should be reminded to sign their student ID cards before they go vote.
- To comply with the new law what dates must be listed on the student ID?
A voter identification compliant student ID card should contain both the date it was issued and the date it expires. The date the voter identification compliant student ID card expires cannot be more than two years after the date the card was issued.
Voter identification compliant student ID cards do not have to contain a student’s birth date, and it is our recommendation that student ID cards not contain that information. Generally, a student’s birth date is not directory information, and is, therefore, FERPA protected. Generally, it is our recommendation not to require students to include FERPA protected information on their student ID cards, because there are many situations where students are required to disclose their student ID cards to access on or off campus resources. If a student is not of voting age, that student has the responsibility to avoid committing voter fraud with a UW student ID card.
- How should institutions address the additional expense of issuing student ID cards that comply with the requirements of voter identification?
The expiration date requirements of the new Wis. Stat. § 5.02(6m)(f), mean that to provide voter identification compliant student ID cards, expenses for student ID cards likely will double, or possibly triple. UW institutions may want to investigate ways to avoid passing those costs on to students. For instance, UW institutions may want to investigate applying for voter education and promotion grants from the federal government or other non-profit groups. However, there is nothing in the new law that prevents UW institutions from passing those additional costs on to students.
- Can a UW institution provide voter identification compliant student IDs only to students who request them?
There is nothing in the law preventing a UW institution from providing voter identification compliant student ID cards to some students and noncompliant student ID cards to others. If a UW institution provides voter identification compliant student ID cards to some students, it should provide those cards to any properly registered students who request them. However, it is our recommendation that UW institutions avoid issuing multiple classes of student ID cards.
- Can a UW institution set up a special booth or office to provide voter identification compliant student ID cards for students who request them?
This would be a good practice for any campus that decides to provide voter identification compliant student ID cards only for students who are interested in receiving such an ID card, as opposed to providing compliant cards to all students. When providing compliant cards, such a booth or office should also provide students with the corroborating receipt necessary to identify students as currently enrolled. It would be a good practice to set up such a booth or office some time in advance of an election day and for such a booth or office to also be available before primary and municipal elections.
- Do voter identification compliant student ID cards need to display a student’s address?
No. The new Wis. Stat. § 6.34(3)(a)7. expressly allows voter identification compliant student ID cards to serve as proof of identity and residence without containing an address, as long as those cards are accompanied with the corroborating evidence of registration or campus address described in the statute.
- Do the new rules apply to student ID cards for distance education students?
It is theoretically possible that distance education students who are also Wisconsin residents, if issued voter identification compliant student ID cards, could use those cards to vote, with corroborating evidence of registration. However, it is our recommendation that UW institutions either issue student ID cards without a photo or not issue student ID cards to students who cannot come to campus to have their picture taken. Otherwise, UW institutions simply cannot verify that the picture of a student on an ID card is actually the student in question.
- Are there any other problems with issuing voter identification compliant student ID cards to out of state students?
If a UW student lives in Wisconsin for twenty-eight (28) consecutive days before an election, that student may be eligible to vote, even if the student is paying out of state tuition. Wis. Stat. § 6.02(1); 6.10(12). Therefore, students who have come from out of state to the UW may determine for themselves whether they meet the voter eligibility requirements, such as state of mind requirements, found in Wis. Stat. §§ 6.02-.10.
- May an institution provide to election officials a list of U.S. citizens who reside in university sponsored housing pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 6.34(3)(a)7.b. without obtaining the consent of students on the list?
No. Records regarding whether a student is a U.S. citizen can only be disclosed by a campus if that student has provided prior written consent, or if some other exception from FERPA applies. We have been unable to identify a FERPA exception which would allow campuses to disclose a student’s U.S. citizenship in a list provided to a municipal clerk solely pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 6.34(3)(a)7.b. Therefore, if a campus wishes to provide such a list, it must obtain the written consent of students living in university sponsored housing. A sample written FERPA consent for this purpose is included as Appendix A. Only the students who provide valid written consent may be included on any such list.
- Are there other low cost alternatives to offering voter identification compliant student ID cards?
Campuses may want to direct students without driver’s licenses to the local DMV to obtain a free Wisconsin ID for the purposes of voting, according to the new Wis. Stat. § 343.50(5)(a)3. Additionally, campuses may want to coordinate with international student offices to ensure that U.S. students who are participating in overseas programs plan ahead so that they can receive their U.S. passports in time for election day and use those passports as proof of identification and residence.
- Can UW institutions provide student identity or residence verification information electronically?
UW System will be working with the Government Accountability Board to establish some further guidance for what types of documentation satisfy the new proof of identity and residence requirements, and will provide such guidance when it becomes available in the future.
University of Wisconsin Written FERPA Consent
for Disclosure of Voter Identification Information
For the purposes of facilitating my ability to vote in local elections, I, _____________________, the undersigned, provide this waiver pursuant to the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.30 and .32, and I authorize the University of Wisconsin-___________________ (the “University”), pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 6.34(3)(a)7.b., to include my
- current local address, and
- the fact that I am a U.S. citizen
in a current and certified list of students who reside in housing sponsored by the University. Prior to any election day the University has reason to believe that I will be
- a U.S. citizen,
- currently enrolled in the institution, and
- currently living in housing sponsored by the University.
The University may provide such a list to the ________________________ Clerk, who may further disclose such a list both to election workers and to the general public pursuant to the Wisconsin Public Records Law, Wis. Stat. §§ 19.21-.39.
This document must be signed and dated by a UW student to be a valid.