UW-Eau Claire’s voter IDs
Because of the state’s new voter ID bill, UW-Eau Claire has begun selling voter IDs for $2 each. The bill rendered Eau Claire’s current student IDs ineffective in the voting process.
Recently, a local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to university officials chiding the university for charging what they called a poll tax in order to get the IDs.
An important distinction to make off the bat is that other schools charge for the IDs as well, but where Eau Claire differs is that other schools charge by taking the amount out of segregated fees or other sections of tuition payments.
The editorial board had somewhat differing opinions on what constituted a “poll tax.”
Some argued that because Eau Claire isn’t taking it out of segregated fees, it qualifies as being called a poll tax, while others argued that it this sort of thing shouldn’t be in the same category as poll taxes.
But the editorial board had agreed that the ACLU should really push its focus from this at Eau Claire to targeting the voter ID bill itself and the flaws there.
After all, you have to pay in some part for everything else that counts as ID, like driver’s licenses ($28-$35) and state IDs ($28), though the primary use of these isn’t for voting.
Charging two dollars isn’t much, but it is a deterrent to some degree, even if that degree is minor, which led some on the editorial board to agree that any fee could be considered poll tax.
Whether or not a student is willing to pay the fee doesn’t change that.
Voting for students is already and issue, as apathy generally wins out over number of votes in the 18-24 demographic. But it’s getting more and more difficult with the new bill.
The fee is minor, but it’s more about the principle of building up more and obstacles for the student demographic to vote effectively.
The ideas behind the bill are only going to push student voters that are on the fence to not voting, which is something a democratic society thrives on. This could be seen as unconstitutional.
So instead of sending angry letters to Eau Claire, the ACLU should concern itself with more the constitutionality of the bill itself.
They can pore over the way universities like Eau Claire handle new developments, but if they want real change, they ought to seek out the bill, not the university.