NAACP v. Walker

Type of Case: Voter ID

Court: Dane County Circuit Court; District IV Court of Appeals; Wisconsin Supreme Court

Case Number: 2011-CV-5492; 2012-AP-1652

Filed On: December 16, 2011

Current Status: Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Voter ID constitutional

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.

The 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 ruled the law constitutional.  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).

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