The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Wisconsin to implement a voter-identification law that opponents say is one of the strictest in the nation. Rejecting an appeal by civil rights groups, the justices Monday gave a victory to Republicans, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who have championed voter-ID laws around the country. Wisconsin is one of 30 states with ID laws and one of 17 that enacted measures since the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana statute in 2008. Civil rights groups say ID requirements disproportionately affect minority and low-income voters while doing little if anything to protect against fraud. The organizations pressing the Wisconsin appeal said 300,000 registered voters in that state lack a qualifying ID.
“The right to vote is the foundational element of American democracy,” the groups argued. “Increasingly restrictive voter ID laws like Wisconsin’s Act 23 unjustifiably burden the voting rights of millions of registered voters, particularly African Americans and Latinos.”
Wisconsin officials led by Walker, a potential presidential candidate, defended the law. They argued that it will impose a minimal burden on voters while providing more assurance of a fraud-free election.
“In Wisconsin, as elsewhere, the overwhelming majority of voters already have qualifying ID,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel argued. “For those who lack ID, obtaining one and bringing it to the polling place is generally no more of a burden than the process of voting itself.”