Wisconsin has not only taken the lead in efforts to restrict the rights of working class families, it has also taken the lead in efforts to restrict the voting rights of all Wisconsinites with a tough voter ID law.
That law imposes fees on individuals with out-of-state drivers licenses and discriminates against the poor, students and the elderly and is now being challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The lawsuit challenges the law as one that “imposes a severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; violates the Twenty-Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as an unconstitutional poll tax; and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in arbitrarily refusing to accept certain identification documents.”
The plaintiffs in the case are 17 voters and range from an 84-year-old woman without a certified birth certificate to a 52-year-old homeless Army veteran to a 20-year old without a Social Security card. They represent each affected group of citizens who will be effectively disenfranchised through this new bill. That disenfranchisement comes in a variety of ways, through forcing individuals to choose between “surrendering their driving privileges to obtain a free Wisconsin state ID card, paying a fee for a Wisconsin driver’s license, or losing their right to vote.”
The lawsuit comes at an interesting time in election law. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised a thorough investigation by the Department of Justice into these kinds of disenfranchisement bills. Meanwhile the Supreme Court is set to weigh in on redistricting challenges which many voting rights advocates consider the second prong in the right’s coordinated assault on voting rights.
Photo from hjl via flickr.