Federal appeals court rules Wisconsin voter ID law must be re-examined News
Federal appeals court rules Wisconsin voter ID law must be re-examined

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the district court must review Wisconsin’s voter ID law to determine whether broad application constitutes an equal protection violation. The law [materials] requires “certain [photographic] identification in order to vote at a polling place or obtain an absentee ballot.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] is challenging this statute on the grounds that undue burdens upon certain individuals in acquiring a valid ID should excuse them from this law. The court acknowledged the significance of this issue, stating that “[t]he right to vote is personal and is not defeated by the fact that 99% of other people can secure the necessary credentials easily.” Wisconsin contends that the voter ID law is very similar to Indiana’s voter ID law, which was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court [official website]. The appeals court agreed, but distinguished the two laws due to Indiana’s safety net for individuals unable to obtain a valid ID for financial or religious reasons, which was not present in Wisconsin. The court suggested the lower court examine the workings of the states’ voting system before deciding upon the merits of the ACLU’s contentions.

Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Earlier this month the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed to reconsider [JURIST report] Texas’ voter ID law. In January a North Carolina District Court declined to grant [JURIST report] a motion enjoining the state from implementing its voter identification law in the most recent primary. 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 of last year Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. 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 in November 2014.