State Supreme Court upholds voter ID law

State Supreme Court upholds voter ID law

The State Supreme Court upheld Thursday a requirement to show identification in order to vote.

In two cases, brought by three organizations, the court held that the voter ID law or Act 23, passed by the legislature in 2011, does not violate the state constitution.

The case brought by the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera argued that minorities and those in poverty have a hard time getting access to IDs, and that creates an undue burden that disenfranchises voters.

The court ruled Thursday, in a decision written by Justice Patience Roggensack, that “Act 23 does not constitute an undue burden on the right to vote.”  

But, she wrote, “Payment to a government agency, however, is another story.”

Roggensack explains that the voter ID law requires that the Department of Transportation cannot charge for an ID card to vote, but that attorneys argued that other documents required to get that ID required a fee.

So, Roggensack concluded, the Department of Motor Vehicles she said must use discretion requiring “the issuance of DOT photo identification cards for voting without requiring documents for which an elector must pay a fee to a government agency.”

A separate case brought by the League of Women Voters case argued that the legislature did not have the authority under the constitution to create a new requirement to vote. 

Roggensack, in her decision, disagreed.  She wrote that voter ID, “is a reasonable regulation that could improve and modernize election procedures, safeguard voter confidence in the outcome of elections and deter voter fraud.”

The League of Women voters responded to the ruling saying the group is disappointed but the group stresses that the law is still blocked by federal injunction.

The voter ID law was passed by the Republican legislature and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in July of 2011.  It was in place for one spring primary election, but was blocked by a judge and hasn’t been in place since.

In a release from Walker, he applauded the decision. “People need to have confidence in our electoral process and to know their vote has been properly counted. We look forward to the same result from the federal court of appeals.”

But, despite the ruling by the state’s high court, the law will still not be in effect.

A federal judge ruled in April that the law was unconstitutional, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.  That case is currently under appeal.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told The Associated Press that he is looking at all options to get that federal court ruling put on hold, so the photo ID requirement can be in place for the November election.

He said the state court’s decision should help defense of the law in federal court.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the ruling could potentially lead to fraud. He said it’s unclear what the process will be to ensure a person is a legal citizen and who they claim to be.