Rock the Vote President Heather Smith issued the following statement regarding a proposed Wisconsin law that would require voters to show IDs at the polls. The law is being pushed by senators hoping to force a vote on the state’s budget. 

“As an organization that values the voting rights of all citizens, Rock the Vote is deeply troubled that leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature are abusing their power by using the circumstances surrounding their state’s budget crisis to move forward with a bill that would disenfranchise thousands of voters. 

According to data from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 36 percent of young people, including more than 70 percent of African-Americans ages 18 to 24, do not have a driver’s license. An estimated 23 percent of people ages 65 and older do not have a Wisconsin driver’s license or a photo ID. Voting is a fundamental, constitutional right that shouldn’t be subject to one’s ability to get to the DMV and pay for an ID, especially when 26 percent of Wisconsin’s 91 DMVs are open one day a month or less, the state has only one DMV with weekend hours, and three Wisconsin counties have no DMVs at all. 

More troubling is that Wisconsin is just one of several states currently engaging in an active assault on young people’s voting rights. States like Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina, among others, are also facing similar pieces of legislation. 

Voter ID requirements are one of many tactics used to disenfranchise voters. Efforts to eliminate early voting, same-day registration, pre-registration, and the rights of students also prevent young people from participating in our civic process. 

Our country’s voter registration system is unfair, antiquated and ill-equipped to serve the next generation of Americans, and efforts to turn back the clock even further are an affront to all citizens.” 

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About Rock the Vote | www.rockthevote.org

Rock the Vote engages young people in our democracy and builds their political power by registering, educating and turning them out to vote, by forcing the candidates to campaign to them, and by making politicians pay attention to youth and the issues they care about once in office. For 20 years, we have used music, popular culture, new technologies and old-fashioned grassroots organizing to engage and mobilize young people to participate in every election. By providing them with the information and tools they need since 1990, Rock the Vote has registered more than 5 million young people, including more than 2.5 million in the historic 2008 election. In 2010, Rock the Vote has logged more than 300,000 voter registration downloads as part of the largest midterm elections outreach strategy in our organization’s history.