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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

High Court Leaves WI Voter ID Law in Place

(CN) - Wisconsin's voter ID law will soon take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court declined an invitation Monday to look at the case.

"Our legal team did an outstanding job defending Wisconsin law, from the trial court to the U.S. Supreme Court," Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in an emailed statement after the announcement.

"Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election," the statement continues. "The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections - this decision is final."

Though the 7th Circuit would have kept Wisconsin Act 23 in place for the November 2014 elections, the Supreme Court blocked enforcement pending the filing by challengers of a petition for certiorari.

Schimel answered that petition in a Feb. 6 opposition brief that said voter photo ID laws are controversial but "should not be."

"In Wisconsin, as elsewhere, the overwhelming majority of voters already have qualifying ID," that 33-page brief said. "For those who lack ID, obtaining one and bringing it to the polling place is generally no more of a burden than the process of voting itself."

Schimel likened Wisconsin's law to an Indiana statute that the Supreme Court upheld in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.

"Voter ID protects against fraud and bolsters voter confidence in the election process," Schimel's brief states.

Pending actions in other federal courts of appeal circuits will address the same issues raised in Frank, making the issue unripe for Supreme Court review, Schimel says. He claimed that circumstances had changed since those in place when challengers in Wisconsin secured an injunction.

The revisions supposedly eliminate the possibility for discrimination by requiring that any citizen have access to free identification, and that Wisconsin cannot require documents for which they have to pay. The state also implemented policies to help voters get identifying documents, Schimel said.

"These so-called 'burdens' drove the district court's decision, but the facts have changed," the brief states.

Clayton Kawski is the counsel of record for the state in the flagship voter ID challenge, Frank v. Walker.

Nationwide, Republican administrations tend to support voter ID laws, claiming they prevent vote fraud. Democratic administrations tend to claim that they are a back-door way to discourage voting by minorities and poor people.

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