Voting rights advocates are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Wisconsin’s voter ID law, one of the most stringent in the country. “There are a lot of barriers that Wisconsin’s law imposes on voters that have not been resolved,” said attorney Karyn Rotker of the ACLU of Wisconsin, which is among the groups asking the court to review the voter ID law. “We hope that the Supreme Court will make sure that voting rights are protected.” The law, passed in spring 2011 and only in effect during one low-turnout election, has had a tumultuous legal history. As it was challenged in state and federal courts, it was put on hold, then suddenly revived by a federal appeals court just before last November’s general election—and put on hold once again, this time by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The law’s advocates, including state Attorney General Brad Schimel, say Wisconsin’s photo ID requirements are close enough to Indiana’s, which were validated by the Supreme Court as constitutional. Besides, the law is needed to combat supposedly widespread voter fraud, Schimel argued, and ensure that voters have confidence in election results. Therefore, the justices don’t need to take up Wisconsin’s law. “While voter photo ID laws are controversial, they should not be,” Schimel argues in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court Feb. 6.
But voting rights advocates who oppose voter ID—led by the ACLU of Wisconsin and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)—counter that Wisconsin’s law is much more stringent than Indiana’s, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and does nothing to combat voter-impersonation fraud, which is extremely rare. They say that the many voter ID laws springing up around the country require the Supreme Court’s attention, and Wisconsin has the most robust case.