... It’s an unsettling time for Wisconsin voters who find their decisions at the ballot box cheapened at the very time so much is in play, so much is at stake and so many agree on so little.

But that’s what makes democracy exciting; no matter the cause or the conflict, the will of the people prevails, at least ultimately.

Yet with so much that divides citizens, it is more important than ever for folks of all political persuasions to be united by faith in the integrity of the electoral system, whatever results it produces.

The oft-uttered phrase, “This is what democracy looks like” is never more true than at the ballot box on election day.

But it presumes the process is sacrosanct.

People shouldn’t be questioning whether county clerks are corrupt, election officials are running out of ballots or folks are voting illegally or multiple times.

Those last circumstances are the ones the Voter ID bill, which Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to sign today (Wednesday), was designed to put to rest.

Critics suggest it is a needlessly expensive effort to disenfranchise voters for whom casting a ballot may be made more difficult due to their limited circumstances. They argue that it can be a nuisance to have to show a photo ID, or even to have one.

They’re correct in part.

Voter ID is expensive — more than $7 million over the next two years, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau. Most of that will pay for IDs issued at Department of Motor Vehicle sites to those who don’t own a driver’s license, passport, military or state-issued ID, naturalization papers, tribal ID or a signed student ID no more than two years old. (Exemptions include nursing home residents, victims of stalkers and those who decline to have their photos taken for religious reasons.)

The state will pick up the tab for voter IDs to assure the franchise remains available to all (i.e. no de facto poll tax).

... So costly, yes. But an effort to disenfranchise voters? Hardly.

Many argue that voting should be made as easy as possible. They recommend voting holidays, 24-hour election periods, on-line voting or a longer absentee-ballot period (Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law will shorten it).

Such ideas imply that voting is an inconvenience rather than a privilege. Sadly, most people wouldn’t cast ballots if voting machines were installed in their living rooms.

No better time than five days before Memorial Day to suggest that citizens should make it a priority to exercise the very franchise for which others, in this country and in others, have risked if not given their lives. To put it more crassly, it’s less convenient to die for democracy than it is to do democracy. ...

So fly your flag on Memorial Day. Attend the ceremony on the Village Green. March to Hillside Cemetery.

But when election day comes in April, November — and this July — show your true patriotic colors by casting your ballot.

Just don’t forget to bring your ID.

— Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the May 26 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

Recommended for you