Monday’s decision by the US Supreme Court not to hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID law marked the end of a long legal battle.
The law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker in 2011, was used in just a single election – a primary race in early 2012. A long line of state and federal court decisions have kept it from being used since then. However, after the nation’s high court declined to hear an appeal of a decision this week that upheld the law, it will be in effect after the upcoming April 7 elections.
Andrea Kaminski is the executive director of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters, which filed one of the original challenges in state court that stopped the law. She expressed disappointment in the outcome of the federal case and is worried that it will keep thousands of voters from being able to cast a ballot in the future. Kaminski said “in the course of these lawsuits, it’s been revealed that an estimated 300,000 voters in our state don’t possess the kind of ID that this very strict law requires.”
The state Department of Transportation has continued to provide free photo ID cards to individuals who say they need one for voting, and there is a process in place to help individuals who lack the documentation needed to get a card. Kaminski worries about making sure voters know what assistance is available to them, and added that it’s unfortunate the state will likely rely on non-profit groups to get that message out.
After the April election, Kaminski said her group plans to work to educate voters about what they will need to vote in the future. Next February is expected to be the first statewide election voters where will have to show a photo ID at the polls to obtain a ballot.