Wisconsin’s requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls has survived another legal challenge after a federal judge Thursday dismissed portions of a wide-ranging lawsuit alleging the mandate burdens the right to vote.
I have posted the judge’s 11-page opinion at this link. It is notable on two grounds. First, it leaves open the possibility that an election administration law passed with bad partisan intent for no good reason could be unconstitutional. Second, the court wrote this about Wisconsin’s voter identification law, which the 7th Circuit has already upheld as constitutional:
Defendants move to dismiss any claim that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is illegal, and plaintiffs concede that their challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law is doomed under current circuit law. Plaintiffs press the claim here only to preserve the opportunity to argue for reversal of Frank. Defendants’ motion will be granted because this court is constrained to follow Frank. But I will take the opportunity to express skepticism at the notion that voter ID laws promote confidence in elections, which Frank accepted as a rational benefit of such laws. 768 F.3d at 750-51. My skepticism has two bases. First, for those who believe plaintiffs’ story of how and why Wisconsin has a voter ID law, Wisconsin’s law is a method of voter suppression, which undermines rather than promotes confidence in Wisconsin’s elections. Second, “confidence” itself is a dubious benefit. Well-grounded confidence in the electoral process is a good thing, which might increase voter participation. But confidence based on anything other than rational reasons supported by evidence is either foolishness or superstition, neither of which are reasons to pass legislation or to uphold it as constitutional. Whether voter ID laws promote well-grounded confidence in the electoral process is a fact that should be verified, even if I am constrained here to accept it as an established “legislative fact.”