Forget about voting in the July 12 recall elections if you move to Wisconsin after June 14.
Under a proof-of-residency provision in the voter ID bill passed this week by the state Legislature, voters will now need to live in the state 28 days before an election -- instead of 10 -- in order to cast a ballot.
The change is one of many that will take effect immediately after Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a longtime supporter of voter ID, signs the bill into law Wednesday.
Thursday's passage of the bill in the state Senate was chaotic, with eight Democratic senators refusing to vote and members of the public watching from the Senate balcony shouting "shame, shame," and "recall," following the vote.
With little time to educate the public and no money for outreach or educational campaigns included in the bill, Democrats and voter rights activists fear more confusion at the polls July 12. On that day, recall elections could be held for as many as six Republican and three Democratic senators.
"Implementing some of this bill before the recall elections guarantees mass chaos at the polls," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, during debate on the Senate floor.
Efforts to recall the senators stem from Walker's efforts to strip the collective bargaining rights of public workers. The Democratic senators are being recalled for fleeing the state to prevent a Senate vote. The Republicans are being recalled for their vote in favor of Walker's proposal. There are no recall elections for lawmakers who represent Madison.
Extending the residency requirement from 10 to 28 days is one immediate point of concern for Andrea Kaminski, the director of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. Under the provision, it is not only new state residents who could be turned away from the polls. In-state residents who move to a new home or apartment located outside of their current voting district after June 14 must cast their votes in their old district.
Residents who haven't moved since the last election do not need to worry about showing proof of residency. Their names will be on the voter log at their polling place.
First-time voters, however, whose names do not appear on a voter log, must prove they have lived at their current residency for 28 days. Additionally, the voter ID bill no longer will allow neighbors to vouch for one another or for parents to vouch for voting-age children who live in their home.
This concerns voter advocates like One Wisconsin Now's executive director, Scot Ross, who says 178,000 seniors in the state do not have a valid photo ID.
"It is very clear Republicans are rigging elections in their favor, and they are willing to suppress the votes of seniors, students and minorities to do that," said Ross, whose organization was one of many that began working in 2007 to counter claims that voter fraud was rampant in Wisconsin.
The voter ID bill also shortens from three weeks to two the period during which voters can cast absentee ballots prior to an election. The cutoff date for accepting these ballots also moves from the Monday before an election to the Friday before an election, said Reid Magney, a spokesman with the state Government Accountability Board.
Those voting absentee for the July recall elections will need to have their ballots mailed or hand delivered by July 8 to their municipal clerk.
But voters can vote in the recall elections without a photo ID. Through what's known as a soft implementation of the bill, poll workers will ask voters in July to show a photo ID. If voters don't have one, they will be reminded that they will be turned away the next time without proper identification.
Once fully implemented, the voter ID law will require voters to present a valid driver's license, passport, tribal ID or naturalization papers to obtain a ballot. Student IDs are allowed but will need to include a current address, birth date, signature and expiration date. No college IDs used in the state, including those on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, now meet those standards.
Kaminski said the incremental implementation of the voter ID bill will confuse some voters, as will the changes to absentee voting and residency requirements. She said the League of Women Voters plans to work with community organizations, colleges, the state Government Accountability Board and the media to educate the public on the changes.
And her group will have observers at the polls to make sure people aren't being turned away illegally. "We will be watching the recall elections closely," Kaminski said.
Magney said the GAB will be coordinating a public education campaign, including billboards and television and radio ads. The money for the campaign and other outreach efforts is included in the 2011-13 budget, not the voter ID bill.
"Most of the money will be used after this upcoming election for the bigger presidential election," he said.
The spring elections, which include the presidential primary, will be the first election that state voters must show a voter ID in order to cast a ballot.