Wisconsin Democrats urge review of voting requirements after news reports of significant barriers for many voters during recent election
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI 3), Gwen Moore (D-WI 4) and Mark Pocan (D-WI 2) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a review of Wisconsin’s voter identification requirements and consider bringing a legal challenge or join litigation in Wisconsin’s Eastern and Western District Courts.
“The barriers these requirements have set up and the harmful impact they have had for many Wisconsin voters demonstrate that now is the time for a full and thorough review of the constitutionality of the voter ID law,” the members of Congress wrote. “These developments raise serious questions about the impact the voter ID law has had on the ability of many Wisconsinites to exercise perhaps their most fundamental constitutional right – the right to vote and participate in our democracy. As such, we believe it is critical that the Department of Justice carefully review the effect of this law and what steps it can take to help uphold the voting rights of all Wisconsinites.”
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Wisconsin Congressional Democrats urge the Justice Department to conduct a review of Wisconsin’s potentially discriminatory voting requirements to determine whether they are consistent with the Voting Rights Act and federal constitutional protections for the right to vote. The members of Congress also call for a review of all the options available to the Department of Justice, including bringing a legal challenge or intervening in existing litigation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that eligible voters facing difficulty obtaining ID have the right to challenge the law as it applies to them. This issue is now back before Wisconsin’s Eastern District court. A separate challenge brought in the state’s Western District is scheduled to go to trial in May.
While Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been under the scrutiny of federal courts for several years, the April 5th primary election was the first instance in which the law, one of the nation’s most restrictive, was implemented. This election day, there were numerous press reports of long lines and significant challenges for many voters, particularly students, to comply with the requirements of the new law. Additional press reports highlighted troubling statements by individuals closely connected to the state legislature’s consideration of the law, indicating that its passage may have been motivated, at least in part, by a desire to reduce youth and minority participation in elections.
An online version of the letter to the Justice Department is available here.