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Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board is pushing to inform voters about new voter ID requirements with two weeks left before primary elections and without much funding


MADISON, Wisconsin — Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board is working to inform voters about new voter ID requirements with two weeks left before primary elections, but without much funding behind the effort.

The statewide "Bring It to the Ballot" campaign, first started in 2011 when the voter ID law passed, is being relaunched, the board said Monday at a news conference.

In 2011 and 2012, the board spent about $700,000 total to develop educational videos, brochures and radio ads, Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said. But since there was no funding in this year's budget, the board is using a website, asking television and radio stations to run public service announcements and doing presentations with voters throughout the state.

"I think you can always do more, but we're not going to sit on our hands on this," Kennedy said. "We'll continue to do outreach and we'll continue to keep the message out there."

The voter ID requirement briefly took effect for the 2012 spring primary election, but a court soon halted its implementation due to ongoing legal challenges. No funding for the campaign was provided for the current fiscal year because the law was on hold.

But the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to take up a challenge to the law last year allowed the law to stand. It's been in place for 29 special elections and will be for the Feb. 16 spring primary election.

Kennedy, who would like to see more funding for the education effort, said the board spent about $35,000 in the past year updating materials. The state will spend another $15,000 to $20,000 after June 29, when new ethics and elections commissions replace the Government Accountability Board.

"If money's available, we are prepared to go forward," Kennedy said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's spokeswoman Myranda Tanck said recent public statements from staff are the first indication they had received that the agency was seeking additional funds.

"To our knowledge, no representative of the GAB has reached out directly to any member of the Senate with a request that legislation be drafted to provide additional funding," Tanck wrote in an email. "This failure to communicate agency needs further underscores the need to overhaul the GAB."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' office didn't immediately respond to comment.

The Wisconsin law is one of the most restrictive in the nation. It requires voters to show a current or recently expired Wisconsin driver's license, U.S. passport, Department of Transportation-issued identification card or military ID. Voters can also show an unexpired certificate of naturalization, a tribal ID or some Wisconsin student IDs, though student IDs must be accompanied by a separate document proving enrollment.

Voters who don't have an acceptable ID can obtain a free state ID card from the Division of Motor Vehicles.

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