Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed a series of election reforms following reports of voting irregularities after the 2004 election. The list of reforms follows:
- An early voting option for all eligible voters;
- Mandatory training for all poll workers;
- An extensive outreach campaign to recruit more poll workers;
- Mandatory training for all special registration deputies;
- Prohibit voter drives from paying individuals on a per voter or quota system;
- Uniform voter registration cards;
- Allow eligible voters to register to vote when applying for or renewing a driver's license;
- Require municipalities to develop Election Day plans designed to meet a 30-minute maximum waiting time at the polls;
- Allow access to voter birth date information again to allow for better oversight, but prohibit the use or sale of such information for commercial purposes or the display of such information on the Internet;
- Statewide, uniform poll hours;
- Require a map to be displayed at every polling location, directing voters to their proper voting wards;
- Merge the State Elections and Ethics Boards into a single independent agency; and
- Require state legislative districts to be drawn by the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, in order to ensure more competitive races.
These are all good ideas, many of them probably overdue. Hopefully, the Republican controlled legislature will have the good sense to pass a bill with these provisions in them, and send it on for the governor's signature.
Critics of the plan will cite the fact that a photo ID requirement is not included in the plan. I am sympathetic to the arguments concerning the potential for voting fraud to occur, and agree in principle with the concept of a such a requirement. Therefore, I propose every person registering to vote in the state of Wisconsin be provided with a voter ID card. When I lived in Maryland, everyone got one in the mail when they registered (although it didn't include a photo), and brought it with them when they voted.