It may not be dubbed the Trial of the Century but whatever ruling comes out of the lawsuit against Wisconsin’s Voter ID law may well have an impact that lasts as long. Testimony from a wide range of experts, county clerks and other relevant parties is being heard by U.S. District Judge James Peterson. The suit was brought by One Wisconsin Now and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, with the argument that Republican officials passed the law and other related rules as an intentional means of disenfranchising minority and Democratic voters. More than the witnesses called by the plaintiffs, it is in the testimony of those people called to defend the new rules that we get the most insight into the massive rift of understanding between the sides. It also has highlighted the very disparities they’ve set out to defend. A political scientist testifying on behalf of the state claimed that the state’s free ID program could “potentially” mitigate the negative effects of the law, specifically on black voters, who are more than five times as likely as white voters to go through the process to receive a free ID in order to vote. Why make people jump through the extra hoop in the first place, though? There still are no documented cases of voter fraud. This “solution” in search of a problem has only disenfranchised otherwise eligible voters, as evidenced by several of the people who testified about the problems and barriers they faced in trying to receive even those free IDs.
Meanwhile, city and county clerks from predominantly white, heavily conservative communities perhaps unwittingly highlighted the serious disparities inherent in the rules by noting their support for new limitations on in-person absentee voting. Those changes included getting rid of most early voting, as well as the ability to have multiple locations available for that voting.
In a small community it might well make sense to have just one location, but in places such as the city of Milwaukee, Madison and other large population centers, having multiple locations is not only more logistically feasible, it’s often necessary. Those with limited transportation options shouldn’t have to plan an entire day around getting to a single location that may be located on the far side of the city or county from where they live.
Full Article: Testimony in Voter ID lawsuit offers insight into real motives for law.