Federal judge refuses to expand Wisconsin voter ID law

Federal judge refuses to expand Wisconsin voter ID law

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website] on Monday denied [order, PDF] a request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] to expand the list of types of photo identification accepted at polls in the state. Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that expanding the list to include out of state driver’s licenses, veterans IDs and technical college student IDs would require [IBT report] the state to update the existing voter ID law every time a new ID is found to be an acceptable form. The plaintiffs sought class certification and relief as “‘Class 1 voters,’ i.e., those voters who ‘lack photo ID and face systematic practical barriers to obtaining an ID.'” The judge stated that the plaintiffs failed to convince him that there was a large number of people who did not possess Act-23 [text] qualifying IDs and who could not obtain one. The ACLU believes that the state voter ID law places an unjustified burden on the ability of state citizens to vote.

Voting rights have been a contentious issue in the US recently. Last month a North Carolina Superior Court judge refused [JURIST report] to dismiss a case challenging the state’s new voter identification requirement. In May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. In March the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Frank v. Walker [docket], allowing Wisconsin’s voter ID law to stand. Wisconsin’s Act 23, which requires residents to present photo ID to vote, was struck down by a federal district court but reinstated [JURIST reports] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last September. Also in March Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. In November a federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering using a federal voter registration form. Also in November Illinois voters approved the Illinois Right to Vote Amendment [JURIST report], which bans all voter discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or income.