In a sharp reversal, the state of Wisconsin announced yesterday it will expand Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) services to accommodate the increased demand for photo identification in the wake of a controversial new Voter ID law. As ThinkProgress reported last week, after signing a Voter ID law earlier this year that disenfranchises tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters, Gov. Scott Walker (R) then called for closing as many as 16 DMV offices across the state, making it even more difficult for residents to obtain the ID they needed to regain their electoral voice.
Walker’s undemocratic plan prompted widespread criticism and has apparently compelled the administration to completely change its position:
Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb said the expansion leaves all current offices open, increases the total number of offices across the state from 88 to 92 and drastically expands the hours of operation for some 40 counties.
The change, expected to cost about $6 million the first year and $4 million every year going forward, was called for by Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 budget and was meant to address an increase in demand for photo IDs in the wake of the state’s new law requiring voters to show ID at the polls.[…]
The plan announced Thursday differed markedly from the one first unveiled last month, which called for closing as many as 16 offices while expanding office hours elsewhere. That proposal was immediately panned by some as unfairly targeting Democratic areas.
State Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D) is still angry that Walker even considered closing down DMV offices, including one in his district, and accused the governor’s administration of playing politics with necessary services.
Although the new plan infringes less on voters’ rights, it also confirms that these new,completely unnecessary Voter ID laws being signed by conservative governors across the country are costing states millions of dollars at a time they can least afford it.