On December 16, 2011 the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and Voces De La Frontera, a Wisconsin group that fights for immigrant rights, filed a suit against the state of Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. The new law is Wisconsin Act 23 and will require voters to show photo identification at the ballots beginning in 2012.
Voces De La Frontera and the NAACP are challenging the law, saying that it is unconstitutional and is intended to marginalize voters. The two organizations’ challenges follow the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) that was announced on December 13, 2011. The ACLU is challenging the law because they say that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as well as the 24th Amendment which was enacted to protect against poll taxes.
The bill had been introduced a number of times previously but lacked sufficient support until Republicans gained majority control of the Legislature after the November 2011 elections. This window of opportunity gave Rep. Jeff Stone and Sen. Joe Leibham, both Republicans, the green light to re-introduce the bill in early 2011. It was passed into law May 25, 2011.
Proponents of the bill cite voter fraud as a reason for the law. Opponents say the law would have a negative impact on low-income persons in a number of ways. The law will require many low-income voters to take time off of work, for which they will not get paid, to visit one of Wisconsin’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices. Challengers of the voter ID law have also cited the number of people that the law will disenfranchise. According to a report conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute nearly 25% of people over the age of 65 do not have photo identification. Other groups in Wisconsin who are less likely to have a photo ID include; almost 20% of whites, 55% of black males, 50% black females, nearly 50% of Hispanic men, and 60% of Hispanic women. The largest group that the bill affects, and perhaps the strongest demographic that would likely vote democrat in 2012, are an almost 80% of Black men between the ages of 18 and 24.