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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Voters Fight Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law

MILWAUKEE (CN) - Seventeen voters, including senior citizens, minorities and the homeless, sued Gov. Scott Walker, saying Wisconsin's new voter ID law is unconstitutional.

Represented by the ACLU, lead plaintiff Ruthelle Frank also sued eight officials on the state's Government Accountability Board and 10 officials at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The voter ID law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, was signed into law on May 25 and will be effective for all elections beginning in February 2012.

The plaintiffs say it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as it "constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax for eligible Wisconsin voters in this class" because of the fees required for some voters to get identification.

They say the law also violates the 24th Amendment, which states: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax."

Some voters say they will never be able to obtain acceptable identification documents, which include a Wisconsin driver's license, a DMV-issued state ID card, a U.S. uniformed service ID card, a passport, a recent naturalization certificate or an unexpired identification card issued by an accredited Wisconsin university or college.

"These individuals are either legally barred from obtaining one or more of the primary documents needed to obtain a Wisconsin ID card or have made a reasonable but unsuccessful attempt to acquire one or more of the necessary documents," the complaint states.

Voters will not be able to use veteran's ID cards or certain technical college ID cards, though ID cards from other accredited colleges and universities in Wisconsin will be accepted.

Voters with out-of-state driver's licenses and no other forms of acceptable ID will have to surrender their out-of-state license to obtain a Wisconsin-issued ID.

Voters who have to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate say they will suffer "a severe financial burden."

They say the law "will force a significant percentage of eligible, poor Wisconsin voters to make a choice between, on the one hand, paying for a birth certificate and/or incurring significant travel costs in order to acquire a state ID card and, on the other hand, paying for necessities."

They say the Department of Motor Vehicles has limited hours, making it even more difficult to obtain a proper ID.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed a similar voter ID lawsuit in October. The outcome could determine whether the photo ID requirement is in place for recall elections against Walker and state senators, and for the next presidential election.

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