The ACLU's Lawsuit Would Let Certain Voters Cast Ballots Without A Photo ID
Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 7:20pm
By Shawn Johnson

The American Civil Liberties Union has successfully revived part of a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's voter ID law, with this version aimed at people who face especially high hurdles getting an ID.

If the case is ultimately successful, those residents would be able to vote without showing a photo ID at the polls.

The ACLU's original lawsuit would have thrown out Wisconsin's photo ID requirement for all voters. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago dismissed that case in 2014, saying it ran contrary to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

This latest lawsuit is far more specific. It aims to create an exception to the law for certain voters who have an especially difficult time getting the documents they need to obtain a photo ID. That list includes people who need a birth certificate that no longer exists.

In a decision issued Tuesday, the Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court should consider the case.

"The right to vote is personal and is not defeated by the fact that 99% of other people can secure the necessary credentials easily," wrote Appeals Court Judge Frank Easterbrook, who was joined in the ruling by judges Michael Kanne and Diane Sykes. Easterbrook and Kanne were appointed the bench by President Ronald Reagan. Sykes was appointed by President George W. Bush.

ACLU Attorney Sean Young called the decision a victory for the voters of Wisconsin.

"The court ruled that eligible voters facing difficulty obtaining ID have the right to challenge Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law," Young said. "This ruling gives them the chance to go back to the lower court to make their case."

Wisconsin Department of Justice Spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the state would ultimately defeat the lawsuit, in part because of efforts at the Department of Transportation to provide free IDs to Wisconsin voters.

"Given the overwhelming success of the DOT program, and the fact that our state's recent primary elections involved record turnouts, we are confident that we will prevail," Koremenos said.