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It’s hard to imagine how many thousands of times a day someone in Wisconsin, without having to prove who they are, buys a beer at a bar or a restaurant.
Or, for that matter, at a baseball stadium, a church festival or any number of other places in the Beer State — er, Badger State.
So, it was puzzling to see the state’s top law enforcement officer — speaking in the context of the state law that requires photo identification to vote — claim that "we need an ID" to "buy a beer."
Brad Schimel’s claim came in a video attached to a tweet from what is labeled as his campaign Twitter account. The tweet was posted on Aug. 12, 2018, two days before Wisconsin’s primary elections. Schimel ran unopposed in the Republican primary, seeking re-election as the state attorney general, where he leads the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The text of Schimel’s tweet noted that Wisconsin law requires a photo identification to vote. The reference to beer comes in the 40-second video, which also focuses on the voter ID law and was produced as part of his re-election campaign.
Tweets: In Wisconsin, "300,000 voters were turned away by the state’s strict voter ID law" in the 2016 presidential election. False.
The video begins with words on the screen, echoed by a narrator, that say:
Integrity. It matters at the DOJ. And it matters at the ballot box. That’s why Wisconsin voters have said time and again voter ID protects our votes. We need an ID to rent a car, buy a beer, check out a library book. It’s common sense to prove our identity when we vote.
Need a photo ID to buy a beer?
What the law requires
Schimel campaign spokesman Johnny Koremenos, who has also worked as Schimel’s official spokesman at the Department of Justice, defended Schimel’s statement by telling us that getting asked for an ID to buy beer "is commonplace in bars, liquor stores, and grocery stores across the state. In fact, some stores have policies to ID everybody, regardless of whether age has shown its physical signs or not."
But Schimel didn’t say you might be carded. He said -- likening it to casting a ballot at the polls -- that you need an ID to buy a beer.
Article: Does Wisconsin’s new voter ID law ‘disenfranchise’ voters?
In its publication about alcohol laws for retailers, the state Department of Revenue says retailers should demand proof of age of anyone "who appears to be under the legal drinking age." That is, 21. And the law on alcohol beverages says sellers may require a customer to provide ID.
But the law does not require that identification be provided to buy a beer.
As those of us well beyond 21 well know, there are countless times at countless venues where we’ve bought beer without having to show an ID.
Which is something you can’t get away with at the polling place if you want to vote.
Schimel says: "We need an ID" to "buy a beer."
It’s a particularly misleading statement in the context in which the attorney general made it — citing the state law that requires a photo ID in order to vote.
In some places, especially if you look like you might be younger than 21, you might be required to show an ID in order to buy beer. But state law does not require people who want to buy a beer to produce an ID — as many Wisconsin beer drinkers have known for many years.
For a statement that contains only an element of truth, we give Schimel a Mostly False.
Twitter, Brad Schimel tweet and video, Aug. 12, 2018
Email, Brad Schimel campaign spokesman Johnny Koremenos, Aug. 16, 2018
Interview, Wisconsin Legislative Council senior staff attorney Melissa Schmidt, whose specialties include alcohol beverage regulation, Aug. 16, 2018
Wisconsin Department of Revenue, "Wisconsin Alcohol Beverage and
Tobacco Laws for Retailers," December 2016
Email, Wisconsin Department of Revenue spokeswoman Patty Mayers, Aug. 17, 2018
Wisconsin Legislature, Chapter 125 — Alcohol Beverages
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