The Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday agreed to hear arguments in two separate cases concerning Act 23, the state's voter ID law [text]. One case will review a decision by the Madison-based District Four Court of Appeals while the other will be heard by the supreme court [AP report] prior to being ruled on by the appeals court, reversing its past stance against taking such action. Prior to Act 23, a Wisconsin voter was not required to present identification except, in some circumstances, proof of residency. Under the act, a voter is required to present identification that bears his or her name, which must match the name on his or her voter's registration form, as well as a photograph. The law, which was blocked in 2012, was later ruled constitutional [JURIST reports] by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in May of this year, but will have to overcome further legal challenges in order to be put back into place.
Voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] have become increasingly controversial and commonplace throughout the US. There are now more than 30 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including multiple states that have passed laws requiring photo ID. In October the Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously rejected [JURIST report] a movement to overturn the Tennessee Voter Identification Act, ruling that a requirement of government-issued photo ID for voters is constitutional. Texas rights groups filed [JURIST report] a complaint in September in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that photo ID requirements discriminate against poor minorities and those in rural areas. A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court renewed [JURIST report] an injunction in August that will block the state's voter ID law for the third consecutive election.