A federal judge has ruled that a Wisconsin voter id law is unconstitutional, protecting voting rights in the state. Judge Lynn Adelman ruled Tuesday, April 29, that Act 23 cannot be legally enforced. The Government Accountability Board has been restrained from enforcing the law since early March, 2012. Adelman’s ruling protects the rights of the less-advantaged citizens of Wisconsin.
The case which ground Act 23 to a halt, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Wisconsin, et. al. v. David Deinninger, et al., claimed that LULAC was unduly harmed by Act 23 in its efforts to register and otherwise facilitate voter activism. The court cited precedent for the legitimacy of this sort of harm and the plaintiffs were able to demonstrate that the harm was real and ongoing.
Much of the ruling hinged on the ability of an organization, to claim harm as though it were a person. The 1975 Senate Report on the Voting Rights Act broadened the interpretation of the word ″person″ to include either a person or an organization. The judge found that the persons served by LULAC, et al., were the very same persons intended to be served by the Voting Rights Act and that an organization who works on their behalf would thereby be covered under the law.
The League of Young Voters, a defendant, claimed that they had to incur additional expenditures of $80,000 to address issues created by the act. These additional expenditures hindered their core, ″get out the vote″ efforts. Since they were so impacted, they were unable to engage low-income youth in civic activities, including voting.
The voter id law’s statement of core principles were counter to the findings of the court, however. One of those principles is to not disenfranchise vulnerable and ″non-traditional″ voters from accessing the ballot booth. The law offered an alternative option for citizens who objected to having their photos taken by religious, historical, or cultural concerns.
The law split Wisconsin along partisan lines in 2011 and came on the heels of Governor Walker’s anti-union efforts which sparked massive protests in Madison. His claim was that the voter law would protect the integrity of elections in Wisconsin. In light of today’s ruling, one might wonder what Walker considers to be a sound election process.
At the time of the bills signing, Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said that the bill would unduly harm the elderly, poor, and minorities of Wisconsin. His statement has been verified after years of contention and taxpayer expense both in the legislative and judicial processes. It might be wondered how much revenue the state of Wisconsin and the Federal Government would have saved had the legislation been killed in committee review. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin had no pertinent press release available at press time.
Wisconsin voters are now fully protected from Act 23, their rights by a federal judge whose careful deliberation of all the fats and case law vindicated those who sought to protect them back in 2011. In fact, this perpetuates a trend of right-wing attacks on the Voting Rights Act which have been found without merit or standing under Constitutional law.