As the court explained during the October 12 and 13 hearings, the court does not believe that it has the authority to suspend Wisconsin’s voter ID law for the November election. While this case is on appeal, the court’s authority is limited to enforcing the current injunction, not entering a new one. Even if the court did have the authority to reverse course at this point, the court would not do so for several reasons. Voting is already underway, and for reasons explained in the court’s July 29 order, Dkt. 234, the court intends to respect Wisconsin’s decision to implement a strict voter ID law. But most important, the problems with the IDPP are amenable to a targeted solution: better training of DMV employees and better communication to the public.
To be clear yet again: the IDPP is deeply flawed, and the emergency rule that provides the receipts valid for voting is not a perfect solution. But with better training and public communication, the IDPP and the emergency rule will provide reasonable assurance that those without an acceptable voting ID can get one without undue burden (under current constitutional standards).
As discussed at the hearing, the court-ordered improvements will come in two phases. First, the area in need of immediate reform: the information voters are receiving from the DMV about the IDPP. By 12:00 p.m. tomorrow, October 14, 2016, the parties will file: (1) a proposed one-page information sheet or “palm card” that clearly and succinctly explains how a voter enters the IDPP and what the voter can expect after initiating the process; (2) a proposed takeaway letter that applicants will receive immediately after entering the IDPP that explains when they should expect their receipt valid for voting and that shows what the receipt will look like; (3) a revised page on the DMV website that explains the IDPP. The court intends to approve the forms of these documents and plans on October 14, so that the state may implement them on Monday, October 17, 2016. That implementation will include distributing the revised documents (or links to them as appropriate) to the DMV contact list and the WEC municipal clerk distribution list.
Phase two will require the parties to propose additional reforms next week. The court expects the parties to propose quality assurance measures, including follow-up training and competency checks for DMV employees and “secret shopper” efforts similar to those that the state has already employed with the help of undercover state troopers; revisions to the checklist to assist DMV employees as they guide customers to and through the IDPP; and a public information campaign.
The parties will submit their joint phase two proposal (noting where the parties diverge in their recommendations) by Friday, October 21, 2016. The state will also file status reports with the court on October 21; October 28; November 4; and November 11. The court will be particularly interested in hearing about the state’s quality assurance and outreach efforts.
Also, beginning immediately, the IDPP receipts valid for voting will expire 180 days—as opposed to 60 days—after issuance.