A federal judge recently struck down a Wisconsin law that would have required voters to present a photo ID in order to vote, one in a series of judicial rulings addressing how states can control who gets to cast a ballot. A slew of voter ID laws were passed after the 2010 election gave Republicans control of both branches of legislature in many states. Supporters say the laws prevent fraud at the polls. But studies indicate that fraud is virtually nonexistent, and that states that saw higher minority turnout were more likely to pass voter ID laws, said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “We haven’t seen a legislative movement like this since Reconstruction,” she said.
Many of the laws went into effect in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelby County vs. Holder, struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act that required certain areas, such as states in the South, to get federal approval before changing their voting laws.
The Wisconsin case was significant because U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that Wisconsin’s law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, an argument that had not been frequently used in voting rights case. Section 2 prohibits voting practices that discriminate against minorities. Adelman wrote that the law made it harder for minorities to vote.
But in many cases, the voter ID laws passed since 2011 still stand. Here’s a rundown of certain state laws guiding who and when people can vote across the country — and the legal battles that continue to brew.