Minorities and senior citizens testified Monday about costly and time-consuming difficulties they faced in getting photo identification as they pressed their case to permanently invalidate Wisconsin’s voter ID law. The federal trial that kicked off Monday involves two cases and is expected to last two weeks. A Dane County judge in a different case has already blocked the law, but opponents of voter ID are pursuing the federal litigation in an attempt to ensure the requirement never goes back into effect. Assistant attorneys general defended the law in court, saying requiring IDs was a reasonable way to curb fraud and maintain public confidence in the way the state runs elections. “Voter fraud is real,” Assistant Attorney General Clayton Kawski said. “It is not a myth.” The trial began with a string of people describing the problems they had in trying to secure IDs for themselves or family members. Some of them have yet to be successful. “I cannot express the amount of time, energy and frustration it required” to get a license for her mother, Debra Crawford testified. Crawford’s mother, Bettye Jones, was the lead plaintiff in one of the cases before the court Monday. Jones died in October 2012.
Jones was born in Tennessee and lived much of her life in Cleveland, Ohio. She moved to Brookfield in 2011 to be closer to family after her husband died.
She had to make multiple trips to a Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles office before she could get a driver’s license last year because she did not have a birth certificate. Getting the license cost her more than $100 and took about 40 hours over several months, Crawford testified.
Crawford and others who testified Monday were questioned only briefly during cross examination by attorneys for the state. But in opening statements, Kawski stressed state officials have made exceptions in unique circumstances to accommodate voters who had difficulty acquiring IDs.
The state has a “legitimate and important interest” in preventing voter fraud and ensuring the public believes elections are conducted fairly, Kawski said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs countered there is no evidence of in-person voter impersonation, the only type of fraud that would be prevented by an ID requirement.
Full Article: Federal trial challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law underway.