Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: Testimony in Voter ID lawsuit offers insight into real motives for law | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It may not be dubbed the Trial of the Century but whatever ruling comes out of the lawsuit against Wisconsin’s Voter ID law may well have an impact that lasts as long. Testimony from a wide range of experts, county clerks and other relevant parties is being heard by U.S. District Judge James Peterson. The suit was brought by One Wisconsin Now and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, with the argument that Republican officials passed the law and other related rules as an intentional means of disenfranchising minority and Democratic voters. More than the witnesses called by the plaintiffs, it is in the testimony of those people called to defend the new rules that we get the most insight into the massive rift of understanding between the sides. It also has highlighted the very disparities they’ve set out to defend. A political scientist testifying on behalf of the state claimed that the state’s free ID program could “potentially” mitigate the negative effects of the law, specifically on black voters, who are more than five times as likely as white voters to go through the process to receive a free ID in order to vote. Why make people jump through the extra hoop in the first place, though? There still are no documented cases of voter fraud. This “solution” in search of a problem has only disenfranchised otherwise eligible voters, as evidenced by several of the people who testified about the problems and barriers they faced in trying to receive even those free IDs. Read More

Wisconsin: Judge says voting rules won’t change for August election | Associated Press

There will be no change to Wisconsin’s voting laws before the Aug. 9 primary, including the requirement that photo identification be shown at the polls, a federal judge hearing a challenge to more than a dozen election laws said Thursday. U.S. District Judge James Peterson told attorneys at the beginning of the final day of testimony in the two-week trial that he will make a ruling by the end of July, which won’t leave enough time to enact any changes he may order before the primary where the field of candidates running for a host of state and federal races will be winnowed. “Obviously I feel urgency in getting the decision out,” Peterson said, adding that he didn’t think it would be realistic to have it done before the end of July. He scheduled final arguments for June 30. Read More

Wisconsin: Waukesha county clerk: Weekend voting gave ‘too much access’ to Milwaukee, Madison | Cap Times

A series of changes to Wisconsin election laws including a voter ID requirement hasn’t negatively affected voting in suburban communities near Milwaukee, city and county clerks testified in federal court Tuesday. “From the start, we have had virtually no problems at all,” said Waukesha County clerk Kathleen Novack. Their testimony came as the state began its defense in a trial challenging voting policies signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker between 2011 and 2015 including restrictions on early voting hours and locations, the elimination of straight-ticket voting and the photo identification requirement. The lawsuit contends those changes place a disproportionate burden on non-white voters. Tuesday marked the seventh day of the trial, which is expected to last almost two weeks. Read More


Wisconsin: New Federal Trial Eyes Legislative Map | Wisconsin Public Radio

A federal trial begins on Tuesday in a lawsuit against Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative map, and while it’s not the first such challenge, this one is unique. In some ways, Wisconsin has been here before.  Republican legislators drew this map in 2011.  Democrats sued, and in 2012, a federal judicial panel left most of the map intact. Under normal circumstances that would be the end of the story.  But the case going to trial on Tuesday isn’t normal, and the coalition of groups seeking to overturn the map say Wisconsin’s redistricting experience was anything but typical. “Wisconsin is the most extreme partisan gerrymander in the United States in the post-2010 cycle,” said attorney Gerry Hebert, who’s the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center.  “It’s about as far out from what you would consider to be fair as you can imagine.” Legislatures get a chance to redraw their political districts every decade after the U.S. Census.  When state government is divided between Republicans and Democrats, they usually don’t agree on a map and the job falls to a court.  When one party runs everything in state government, it can draw the map it wants, which is what happened in 2011. Read More


Wisconsin: In federal court, Wisconsin DMV administrator outlines challenges in issuing free voter IDs | The Capital Times

People who die waiting for a state-issued voter ID are recorded as a “customer-initiated cancellation” by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, a DMV official testified Thursday. On the fourth day of a trial challenging a series of voting changes implemented in Wisconsin since 2011, U.S. District Judge James Peterson heard testimony from a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and Sun Prairie’s city clerk. But lawyers focused on Susan Schilz, a supervisor in the DMV’s compliance, audit and fraud unit, who was questioned for several hours. Schilz’s unit oversees the ID petition process, or IDPP — the system qualified voters use to obtain a free ID from the state. The lawsuit, filed about a year ago, argues the IDPP is ineffective and is failing minority groups in particular. Read More

Wisconsin: Testimony: Minorities bear brunt of voter ID law | Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Minority voters represent a big share of those seeking free photo IDs under the state’s new voter ID law and may also make up the great majority of those who experience the most problems getting one, under figures that emerged in a federal trial this week. In testimony and filings in the trial before U.S. District Judge James Peterson, the plaintiffs said that blacks and Latinos make up 44% of those seeking a free ID to ensure they can vote but only 9% of the overall voting age population in Wisconsin. Minorities may also make up the lion’s share of those who struggle to get a photo ID, according to a small sample of voters who lacked the key documents needed to obtain one. Read More

Wisconsin: Federal judge hears challenge to Wisconsin election laws | Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans were “giddy” about a voter identification requirement enacted in 2011 that they saw as an opportunity to drive down Democratic turnout at the polls, a former chief of staff to a GOP state senator testified Monday in a federal trial targeting that law and others. The lawsuit targets more than a dozen changes to Wisconsin’s election law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker since 2011. Two liberal advocacy groups and affected voters argue the changes are a violation the federal Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment and the equal protection clause. Their attorney, Josh Kaul, said in opening statements that evidence will show the changes create a “torturous” process making it harder to vote for college students as well as blacks, Hispanics and other minorities who tend to support Democrats. Read More

Wisconsin: 34 Republicans ask budget committee to fund voter ID education campaign | Wisconsin State Journal

More than two dozen Assembly Republicans have asked the Legislature’s budget-writing committee to consider approving money to educate the public on the state’s law requiring voters to show photo identification. The names of 34 Assembly Republicans appeared on a letter dated Thursday and addressed to Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who head the state’s Joint Finance Committee. Twenty-eight of the lawmakers whose names appear on the letter attached their signatures. The letter asks the two lawmakers to schedule a meeting to consider a May 10 request made by the Government Accountability Board to spend $250,000 to re-start a public information campaign authorized in 2011 when the law was passed but was stopped in 2012 after a lawsuit blocked implementation of the law until this year. Read More

Wisconsin: Witnesses detail difficulties obtaining IDs in Wisconsin voter ID case | The Capital Times

A federal judge heard testimony Tuesday from Wisconsin residents who have faced difficulties obtaining photo IDs for themselves or family members on the second day of a trial challenging several of the state’s voting laws. Witnesses for the plaintiffs included a son who faced difficulties getting an ID for his mother in 2011, a homeless man who couldn’t afford a driver’s license but didn’t want to relinquish his driving privileges for a free ID and a mother who spent days navigating the process to get an ID for her adopted daughter. “I’m trying to teach them that this is what you do to preserve this beautiful right,” said Laura Patten of Whitefish Bay, discussing the importance of voting to her children, adopted from Romania.  Read More

Wisconsin: Ex-GOP staffer says senators were ‘giddy’ over voter ID law | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A trial over Wisconsin’s voting laws kicked off Monday with a former aide to a Republican state senator testifying that GOP senators were “giddy” over the prospect the state’s 2011 voter ID law could keep some people from voting. Todd Allbaugh, who worked at the time for then-Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), said some senators expressed a lack of enthusiasm to take up the voter ID legislation early that year during a private meeting of Republicans. Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) then made the case for the bill, he testified. “She got up out of her chair and hit her fist or her finger on the table and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to think about what this would mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses,'” Allbaugh said. Read More