Talking Points Memo: Wis. Official To DMV Employees: Don’t Offer People Free Voter-ID Cards Unless They Ask

-by Eric Kleefeld

September 7, 2011- The Madison Capital Times reports that in the latest development in the controversy over the state's new Voter-ID law, recently passed by state Republicans, a memo written by a state Department of Transportation official instructs employees at the Division of Motor Vehicles not to directly offer applicants the option of a free photo identification card — but only to assist if people directly ask for it.

The option of free photo identification is necessary in order to prevent the law from clearly becoming a poll tax — a tax or fee required in order to vote, which was made unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1964. Unless applicants check the appropriate box on the DMV's new forms, there will be a fee of $28.

The memo written by Steve Krieser, executive secretary at the Department of Transportation, instructs DMV employees: "While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it."

Krieser defended the memo, telling the Capital Times that the Voter-ID law does not have language requiring DMV employees to ask people who request a photo ID whether they needed it for voting, or for other purposes. "If the person initiates that direction, then certainly, we will help them. We will not be coy," said Krieser. "But we still are not going to be selling it at the counter as a free ID."

Krieser also told the paper that the DOT is planning to place signs at DMV offices, reminding people that they need to check an appropriate box on the application forms in order to receive a free ID. However, Krieser also said the signs are "in the design phase," and could not give a date when they would be placed in the DMV offices. 

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