MADISON, Wis. — Workers at seven Division of Motor Vehicles offices across Wisconsin are heard in newly released recordings giving would-be voters without photo IDs inaccurate information about the availability of IDs that would allow them to cast a ballot in next month’s election.
A worker for the national group VoteRiders released the recordings Tuesday to The Associated Press, after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported about some of the details.
Last week, a federal judge ordered the state to investigate whether DMV workers are failing to issue temporary photo identification for voting, as promised.
The recorded statements seem to conflict with a state rule, approved in May and up for renewal Tuesday, guaranteeing that people unable to get an ID will receive a receipt they can use for voting within six days of submitting a petition.
On one recording from Sept. 28, a DMV worker in Hudson tells a person asking for an ID that she’s not guaranteed to get one.
A DMV worker in Rice Lake told the woman “it’s possible” she could get an ID in time for the election, but “there’s no guarantees.” DMV workers in Black River Falls and Wisconsin Rapids incorrectly say that no temporary voting credentials are available.
And in Neillsville a DMV worker says it could take weeks to get an ID without a birth certificate.
Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office has also said in court filings that DMV workers have been trained to tell people without birth certificates that they will get credentials for voting within six days.
The recordings revealed that DMV workers in Adams, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie gave mostly correct information.
A previously released recording by the group VoteRiders revealed three DMV workers giving incorrect information to a Madison man about whether he could get an ID without a birth certificate. Reports about that recording motivated U.S. District Judge James Peterson to say last week that the state appeared to not be in compliance with his order from July to promptly issue a credential valid for voting to anyone who doesn’t have the underlying documents needed to get an ID.
Peterson ordered the state to investigate and report back to him by Friday.
In July, Peterson struck down a host of election-related laws as unconstitutional, including limits on early voting. While he left the voter ID law in place, Peterson ordered the state to improve the way it gives credentials to people who don’t have birth certificates or face other challenges to getting IDs.
The DMV told the judge last month that it was training its workers about how people without the proper documentation to get an ID could still receive credentials necessary to vote.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, Patty Mayers, said she could not comment on the recordings because DOT did not have them.
“DMV remains committed to working with all eligible voters to ensure they receive identification for voting free of charge,” Mayers said in an email.
The new recordings were provided to the AP by Molly McGrath, a campaign coordinator for VoteRiders, a group that works to help voters get IDs needed to vote. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported details from the recordings Tuesday.
They come to light on the same day that DMV officials were to appear before a state legislative committee that was to vote Tuesday on extending a rule requiring the DMV to give credentials needed for voting within six days. Without action, the rule will expire Sunday.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this report.