Case Name: NAACP v. Walker

Type of Case: Voter ID

Court: Wisconsin Supreme Court

Case #: 2011-CV-5492 (Dane County Circuit Court), 2012-AP-1652 (Court of Appeals/Supreme Court)

Filed on: December 16, 2011

Current status: Voter ID upheld as constitutional

Case Name: League of Women Voters v. Walker

Type of Case: Voter ID

Court: District IV Court of Appeals

Case #: 2011-CV-4669 (Dane County Circuit Court); 2012-AP-584 (Court of Appeals)

Filed on: October 20, 2011

Current status: Voter ID upheld as constitutional

Case Name: Frank v. Walker/LULAC v. Walker

Type of Case: Voter ID

Court: Eastern District of Wisconsin

Case #: 11-cv-1128, 12-cv-185 (District Court); 14-ap-2058

Current status: Voter ID struck down, ruling stayed by 7th Circuit

In 2008, the United States Supreme Court called "the risk of voter fraud real" and capable of changing "the outcome of a close election," citing to Wisconsin as one of many states with recent examples of voter impersonation fraud.  In order to combat those risks, Governor Walker signed 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, which imposed photo identification requirements on nearly all voters.

Liberal groups quickly filed suit, challenging Act 23 in four separate court cases - two federal and two state.  Two state judges have held the law unconstitutional.  One (in LWV) concluded that the presentation of identification was an additional requirement to be a qualified voter beyond those requirements permitted by the Wisconsin Constitution.  We believe that presenting identification is merely a method of establishing that you are, in fact, a qualified voter.  The Court of Appeals agreed with us in this case, reversing the lower court and upholding voter ID.

The other judge (in NAACP) found that the burden placed on a few people who had a difficult time getting photo identification made the whole law unconstitutional.  We believe that while the law may place some additional inconvenience on some voters, that inconvenience is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring the integrity of our elections.  All kinds of election integrity measures - registration, single-day polls, single-location polls, etc. - add inconvenience to voting; that inconvenience does not make those measures unconstitutional.

We advanced these arguments on behalf of a diverse group of citizens as amici curiae while the cases are on appeal.  We have shown that none of the studies of voter ID have found that it has a significant negative effect on voter turnout.  We have also brought to the courts' attention the fact that the outcomes of numerous elections every spring could be changed by a handful of fraudulent votes, showing that even if voter impersonation fraud is not "widespread," the public has a compelling interest in curtailing it.

On July 31, 2014, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two opinions upholding the law as constitutional against both challenges.  However, the court ordered that DOT officials permit anybody who cannot obtain a birth certificate without cost to be provided a voter ID without that supporting documentation, to avoid the imposition of a poll tax (a fee for voting).

The federal cases took longer, as a full, week-long trial was held jointly for them.  Judge Adelman entered an injunction against voter ID on April 29, 2014, finding the law unconstitutional and in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  The State appealed to the Seventh Circuit, and WILL attempted to file an amicus brief on behalf of Margaret Farrow, Deborah Haywood, George Mitchell, Michael Sandvick, Aaron Rodriguez, and Robert Spindell, but the Seventh Circuit decided, without explanation, to not accept the brief.  However, the same day it held oral arguments, the Seventh Circuit lifted the injunction pending a ruling on the merits, putting voter ID back in place.