On 7th Cir WI Voter ID: “Down to the Haywire in the Badger State”

Jon Sherman:

The court, however, was completely mistaken when it wrote that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is “materially identical” to the Indiana law upheld by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. This is wrong in four ways.

First, Indiana’s ID law only applies to in-person voting, while Wisconsin’s applies to in-person and absentee ballots. In November 2012, 664,597 Wisconsin voters (21.57%) cast absentee ballots. Alabama is the only other state that requires photo ID from absentee voters; even Texas’s draconian voter ID law does not.

Second, Indiana accepts any photo ID that contains a name, bears an expiration date, and was issued by the U.S. or Indiana, while Wisconsin only accepts a Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card, military ID, U.S. Passport, certificate of naturalization which is no more than 2 years old, tribal ID, and certain student ID cards.

Third, Indiana permits indigent voters to sign an affidavit instead of presenting an ID.

Finally, Wisconsin only accepts student IDs if they contain a signature, an issuance date, and an expiration date no later than two years after the election. While the University of Wisconsin System has taken steps to have their schools issue separate voting IDs to students, it is unclear whether other private and technical colleges have taken similar steps. In Indiana, a student ID only needs to have an expiration date.

Not only is Indiana’s ID law more lenient than Wisconsin’s, but the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford did not address the same legal issues. There was no Voting Rights Act claim in Crawford. Moreover, the Crawford plaintiffs’ counsel had assembled almost zero evidence of actual harm to voters, whereas the plaintiffs here have assembled an extensive record documenting ID-less voters who cannot vote or will experience great difficulty in obtaining this license to vote. What the record does not contain is any evidence that the DMV’s untested birth verification procedure will work. The plaintiffs needed to show copious evidence to win their injunction, but the state secured this win on the court’s blind faith.


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