A lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s Voter ID law got underway Monday in Dane County court.
The trial opened with attorneys for the Milwaukee Chapter of the NAACP arguing the law should be ruled unconstitutional because it creates an extreme burden for voters who lack a state-issued photo ID card. Attorneys with the Department of Justice say that’s not true and anyone who needs an ID should be able to obtain one with just a little effort.
In the first day of testimony, UW-Madison political scientist Ken Mayer appeared as an expert witness for the NAACP. Mayer compared Wisconsin’s Voter ID law with similar requirements in other states. According to his analysis, Mayer testified that Wisconsin’s law is “one of the most restrictive in the country.”
Mayer also reviewed cases of election fraud in Wisconsin, including those pursued by the state Department of Justice after the 2008 elections. He says there were less than two dozen instances of alleged fraud in that election, with the majority of them the result of felons voting illegally. Mayer noted that a Voter ID law will do nothing to prevent that from happening in future elections, and existing safeguards have always caught those cases in the past.
Supporters of the law argue most cases of election fraud are not caught because voters do not have to prove their identity. Authors of the bill say requiring a photo ID will stop that from happening.
Mayer says those arguments are just “flat out false.” He says it’s a fallacy to argue that the lack of evidence is actually proof that something is happening.
The lawsuit is one of two challenging the law that have resulted in injunctions that block the Voter ID law from being enforced. The League of Women Voters has a pending lawsuit that argues the law is unconstitutional because it creates a new class of people not allowed to vote.
Testimony in the trial continues today and is expected to last all week.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:09)