The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday not to hear a case involving the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s strict voter ID requirement shifts attention now to voter identification laws working their way through the courts in Texas and North Carolina. As in Wisconsin, these laws are being challenged on the grounds that they hurt minorities and other voters who are less likely to have the required government-issued photo ID. It’s possible — depending on what happens in the lower courts — that the Supreme Court could be asked to weigh in on one or both of these cases before the 2016 presidential election. In the meantime, the Wisconsin law is now set to go into effect, although the state’s attorney general, Brad Schimel, said that won’t happen until after state elections are held April 7.
“Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election,” Schimel said in a statement issued shortly after the Supreme Court’s announcement. “The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections — this decision is final.”
Six states had a strict government-issued photo ID requirement in effect last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That does not include the Wisconsin, North Carolina and Texas laws, which were not in effect. A few other states, including Nevada, are also considering new voter ID laws.
Wisconsin’s ID law has been the subject of litigation ever since it was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011. Proponents said the law was needed to prevent voter fraud, although there has been little evidence of voter impersonation at the polls.