Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ACLU Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Wisconsin's Photo Voter ID Law In Behalf Of 17 Plaintiffs

Ruthelle Frank, 84, has been voting since 1948, but Wisconsin's new photo ID voter law could prevent her from voting at the next 2012 election. Photo: ACLU

Wisconsin's voter photo ID viewed as a poll tax and unconstitutional, the ACLU claims. Second joint lawsuit challenging the photo ID voter law is expected to be filed on Friday by Voces de la Frontera and Milwaukee Branch of NAACP.

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 14, 2011

Milwaukee - On Tuesday, the national Americal Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), its Wisconsin ACLU affiliate and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty announced through a news release that they have filed a federal lawsuit in behalf of 17 eligible voters (plaintiffs) charging that Wisconsin’s photo ID voter law is unconstitutional and will deprive citizens of their basic right to vote. The defendants includes, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), the Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles and its regional divisions as well. Governor Walker is confident that the photo ID voter law will withstand the ACLU challenge.
The 54-page lawsuit is the only active federal challenge against a photo ID voter law (2011 Wisconsin Act 23 enacted on May 25), the most common type of legislation that is part of a nationwide attack on the right to vote. The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin claiming the voter photo ID is a kind of poll tax and is unconstitutional, which is part of a restrictive requirement in a nationwide effort to suppress the fundamental right to vote.
The complaint says that allowing only certain types of photo ID imposes a severe burden on the right to vote in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It also states that the Wisconsin law violates the 24th and 14th amendments because it effectively imposes an unconstitutional poll tax.
"The state of Wisconsin has created a voter ID system that is making it very hard or impossible for residents to exercise their cherished right to vote," said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. "Countless Wisconsin residents, including veterans, minority voters and seniors who have been voting for decades, will be turned away from the polls under this law’s restrictive photo ID requirements. Our lawsuit aims to block this unconstitutional law, so that Wisconsin can continue its proud tradition of high participation in elections."
The law will also have a severe impact on homeless voters, many of whom do not have photo identification, according to the ACLU lawsuit complaint.
One of the plaintiffs that would be barred from voting is Ruthelle Frank, 84, of Brokaw, who does not have a birth certificate. When she was born at home in 1927, her mother recorded her birth in the family Bible. Under Wisconsin’s law, she is unable to obtain an ID needed to vote. She herself is an elected official, having served on her village board since 1996.
Another plaintiff is Carl Ellis, 52, a U.S. Army veteran living in a homeless shelter in Milwaukee. His only photo ID is a veteran ID card, which is no accepted under the Wisconsin's voter photo ID law.
A third plaintiff, Anthony Sharp, 19, an African-American Milwaukee resident who does not have any of the accepted forms of photo ID under the law. Sharp, who lives with his family, does not have income needed to purchase a $20 certified copy of his birth certificate in order to vote, according to the ACLU reported.
A second joint lawsuit is expected to also be filed on Friday by both Voces de la Frontera and the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP challenging the photo ID voter requirement. Jame Hall, President of the NAACP Milwaukee Branch said in a news release, that half of Arfican-Americans in Milwaukee don't have a Wisconsin driver's license and the photo ID law will deny these eligible voters their right to vote. In Wisconsin, there have been no prosecution of anyone misrepresenting their identity while voting and the ID law is just a "vote suppression for minority voters," according to Hall.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera said, "The photo ID voter requirement law is a suppressive law aimed at deterring Latino voters from coming to the polls. The Wisconsin Constitution guarantees all citizens and Wisconsin residents the right to vote and we intend to ardently protect that right." 

ACLU 54-page photo ID complaint at link:

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