creating confusion and may even open the door to the very type of behavior Republican lawmakers were trying to prevent. Policy makers, attorneys and voter ID experts were struggling Friday with how to interpret a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling from a day earlier, which mandated a change to the law in order to make it constitutional. The court said the state can’t require applicants for state-issued IDs to present government documents that cost money to obtain, such as a copy of a birth certificate. The court left it to the Division of Motor Vehicles to come up with a solution. “We don’t know how that’s going to work,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Thursday shortly after the ruling. When asked whether obtaining photo IDs without having to present government-issued documents verifying a person’s identity could result in fraud, Vos said: “It’s got a potential for it.”
The requirement, passed in 2011, is not currently in effect. A state judge blocked it in March 2012, and in May a federal judge struck it down as violating the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. While the state Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional, a federal appeals court would have to reverse U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman’s ruling for the requirement to take effect.
Thirty-four states have passed laws requiring some sort of identification from voters, but only 31 of them are in effect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The push for a voter ID law came from Republicans, who argued for years that such a requirement would cut down on voter fraud and boost public confidence in the integrity of the election process. But opponents say concerns over voter fraud were overblown and not documented, and the law was meant to reduce turnout among minorities and others likely to vote for Democrats.