Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wisconsin's Voter ID Law is Constitutional

You might remember that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in a 2008 case called Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.  The Supreme Court determined that the Indiana law requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls was consistent with the constitution.  Earlier this year, a federal court in Wisconsin struck down a similar law in Wisconsin.  That case made its way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week.  That court reversed the district court's decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Crawford.  Frank v. Walker (7th Cir. Oct. 6, 2014).

The court of appeals discussed the Supreme Court's justifications for upholding a voter ID law.  First, the Court had noted that a commission chaired by former President Carter had recommended the use of photo ID to prevent voter fraud.  Second, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires states to verify a person's eligibility to vote through photo ID and other state-assigned identifiers.  Third, many people register to vote when they get drivers' licenses, so the two are linked from the outset.  Finally, the Supreme Court had concluded that preventing voter fraud and preserving the integrity of elections justified a photo ID requirement, and that the inconvenience of obtaining a photo ID was not a "substantial burden" on the right to vote.

Based on the Supreme Court's stated justifications in Crawford, the court of appeals did not find Wisconsin's voter ID law to be any more burdensome on voters than Indiana's law was.  The court also recognized that 91% of registered voters have qualifying photo ID, and a 9% differential did not effect disenfranchisement.  The court concluded, therefore, that Wisconsin's voter ID law did not violate the constitution.

UPDATE:  A few days after this case was decided, Judge Posner requested that the court of appeals take a vote to hear the appeal en banc.  That vote failed.  Judge Posner's dissenting opinion (the side that voted in favor of having the case heard by the whole court) is an interesting read - you can read it here.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


Post a Comment