Federal Judge Overturns Wisconsin's Voter-ID Law

By Julissa Catalan

A federal judge in Milwaukee issued an extensive 90-page ruling invalidating Wisconsin’s voter-ID law.

The law, which was passed by a Republican-controlled statehouse in 2011, forced voters to have a government-issued ID—like a driver’s license or passport—with them when voting.

While Republican supporters insisted this was the solution to preventing fraud at the polls, many believed that the fraud problem was nonexistent.

“Virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin, and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future,” wrote Judge Lynn Adelman. “A person would have to be insane to commit voter-impersonation fraud.”

Democrats argue that this was the GOP’s way of swinging votes in its direction, or more accurately, eliminating votes that are not in its favor—those case by members of underrepresented communities.

Blacks and Latinos typically vote Democrat; Blacks and Latinos are also the communities most effected by the voter-identification law as they are more likely to not have the proper documentation, financial means to obtain it, nor the time and/or transportation to access the documentation needed under this law. For example, some cannot afford the fees to attain documentation such as a birth certificate, while others cannot get themselves to the government agencies because they work demanding hours that conflict with the agencies’ hours.

Judge Adelman also saw this law as a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as it “is traceable to the effects of discrimination in areas such as education, employment, and housing. It is absolutely clear that the law will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes.”

This ruling is seen as a potential game-changer in voting for upcoming elections as Wisconsin is one of several states that has passed similar ID laws in the past several years. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last year that the Department of Justice would file suit against North Carolina over its voter-ID law, and has called the laws in states like Texas a “poll tax.”

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