Voter Suppression Pandemic Continues

Audio: NLCHP’s Andy Beres discusses voter suppression on the Rick Smith Show on March 8, 2012.

Last Friday, the Law Center amended its lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law to include charges that it illegally blocks minorities and veterans from accessing the ballot box.

Under the law, homeless, poor, and other constituencies could be forced to pay for documents, such as a birth certificate or social security card, before obtaining the state-approved ID they need to vote in the 2012 elections.  With minorities and veterans so severely over-represented among these groups, Wisconsin’s law violates the Voting Rights Act.

The Law Center’s federal suit is complemented by a concurrent state suit filed by the NAACP.  The judge in that case has issued a temporary injunction that would prevent Wisconsin from implementing the law in the April 3 primaries.  Unfortunately, that’s not a done deal.  The state will appeal the ruling, so it’s unclear right now if the injunction will stand.

Moreover, the injunction is just a temporary fix, not a permanent solution.  That’s one reason why our suit – filed in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and Dechert LLP – is so important.

There’s national implications for the case too.  On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed its own voter ID law that could disenfranchise thousands of homeless and poor persons.  It hasn’t passed the House yet, but Governor Corbett has said he intends to sign the bill.  If we succeed in our constitutional challenge of Wisconsin’s law, it would create a legal precedent that could be used to strike down voter suppression laws in Pennsylvania and other states as well.

We’re not letting up on this.

It’s unacceptable that a single person lose their constitutional right to vote, especially when the type of fraud these laws seek to prevent scarcely even exists.  We’re going to hold Wisconsin accountable to our nation’s founding document.

– Andy Beres, Development & Communications Coordinator

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