It is easier to get a concealed carry license in Wisconsin than to get a voter ID through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's petition process.
The overall rejection rates -- so far about 1.5% for each in 2015 -- are about the same, according to federal court documents and the Department of Justice's concealed carry annual report. But a much larger share of voter ID applicants walk away in frustration without their desired documents, according to records.
Overall, 11% of CCW applications processed last year did not result in a CCW license; 13% of voter ID applications resulted with no ID issued, according to records. There were 55 voter ID applications still pending.
WisDOT's voter ID petition process is supposed to help clear red tape for Wisconsin residents having a hard time getting their voter IDs. That does not necessarily happen, however. The lawsuit challenging the process, filed by the One Wisconsin Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, Inc. and several individuals argues, that WisDOT's administration of the program is "arbitrary and capricious."
One Wisconsin considered the 1,062 voter ID applications process by the Wisconsin DOT, through its Division of Motor Vehicles, as of late February. Some 1.5% of those were denied. Last year, the state processed 45,549 CCW applications, and 1.5% of those were denied. (A brief in the lawsuit said the number of denials is expected to increase.)
The voter ID and CCW license denials were for vastly different reasons. In the cases of voter IDs, according to the documents in the lawsuit, DMV "denied the petitions of many eligible voters because of minor discrepancies in the spellings of their names or uncertainties about their exact dates of birth—even though DMV acknowledges it has no doubts these disenfranchised voters are U.S. citizens."
Sometimes months-long investigations were followed by denials, according to the suit. "As DMV admits, these burdens are imposed even where there is no doubt whatsoever that a petitioner is a U.S. citizen."
Concealed weapon applications were denied during the background check process for very different reasons -- often related to criminal histories -- as shown in the chart below.
And when applicants submit identification information that doesn't quite match?
For CCW applicants, "The (1,267) DOT mismatches were held for the applicant to make corrections and then moved through the application process with no additional fee required," according to the Department of Justice's annual report. (The report says those applications were denied, but we do not, as they were only delayed.)
But for those seeking their voter IDs, the story was different, according to the brief. Some 61 of 1,062 applications were cancelled by the customer, and 66 more were suspended.
"It appears that many of the 'suspensions' resulted when DMV told a petitioning voter, after several unsuccessful attempts, to keep searching for additional proofs of his name, birthdate, and 'identity,' and the voter simply gave up and was never heard from again; many of the 'withdrawals' resulted when the voter told the DMV that he was giving up in anger and frustration," the brief said. "There is evidence this has repeatedly happened."
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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