Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane says that if minority-group members want to avoid hassles at the polls on Feb. 21 in the state's first election since new stringent photo-ID requirements were put in place, they should simply come equipped. If not, they will be relegated to the sidelines, just like in the days of Jim Crow.

… But the photo ID law is the result of some politicians and many state residents who didn't feel all that confident about the old system for varying reasons. So that means Wisconsin joined a number of other states that have passed new photo ID laws since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, a fact that strikes some as coincidental and others not so much.


Regardless of the motivation, the response from concerned groups in Milwaukee has been proactive, particularly the campaign by some local churches to use the advent of photo ID to spark more political involvement in the African-American community. That's fitting, seeing how church was the place where many black folks first gained the courage to stand up and demand their right to vote during the civil rights movement.

Older African-Americans still remember when black voters down south were asked ridiculous questions like "How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?" in order to bar them from voting. In modern times, that tactic has morphed into asking some younger African-Americans and Latinos if they currently have a valid driver's license at a time when many don't.

The real danger for those without photo ID for any number of reasonable explanations is that they will accept being relegated to the sidelines during important moments that could decide the future. That's why the only effective response for the minority community is for each eligible voter to step up to the plate regardless of any obstacles.

Read Eugene Kane's entire column at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.