Federal Court Strikes Down WI’s “Discriminatory” Voter ID as Unconstitutional
Posted by Brendan Fischer on April 30, 2014
In a landmark decision, a federal judge in Milwaukee has struck down Wisconsin’s strict voter ID restrictions as both an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote and, for the first time, a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act based on the law’s “disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result” of depriving “the right of Black and Latino citizens to vote on account of race or color.”
Federal Judge Lynn Adelman held that Wisconsin’s 2011 Act 23 violated the U.S. Constitution since on balance, the burdens imposed on the voting rights of nearly 300,000 Wisconsin citizens who lack ID — roughly 9 percent of Wisconsin voters — are not outweighed by the state interest in stopping a statistically insignificant rate of “fraud.” He said that the extensive evidence of the law’s impact on eligible Wisconsin voters, and the lack of evidence of voter fraud in the state, led to a different result than the 2008 Crawford v. Marion case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law.
The decision cut to the heart of the debate over voter ID, highlighting the absolute lack of fraud that might justify voter ID laws, and describing extensive testimony showing the very real impact that the laws would have on hundreds of thousands of otherwise eligible voters, many of whom are people of color.