Wisconsin Voter ID Law Stands After Supreme Court Decision

MacIver News Service | March 23, 2015

[Madison, Wisc…] The Supreme Court of the United States revealed on Monday it would not hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter identification law, meaning the state is free to enact the four-year-old law.

Gov. Scott Walker signed the voter ID law in 2011, and it was in place for the February 2012 primary election. However, legal challenges kept the law from being implemented in any other election since then.

Last year, a federal court struck down the voter ID law, but that decision was later overturned by the Federal Court of Appeals in Chicago before November’s election. Even though the law was upheld before the election, the Supreme Court said the state could not enact the law because it was considering the possibility of hearing the case.

Monday’s decision to not hear the case essentially affirms the lower court’s decision to uphold the voter ID law.

An ID will not be required for the upcoming spring election, though.

“Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election,” Attorney General Brad Schimel said. “The voter ID law will be in place for future elections – this decision is final.”

Walker signaled the court’s decision was a victory of the state’s election process.

“This is great news for Wisconsin voters,” the governor said. “As we’ve said, this is a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Republicans in the legislature that championed the law also applauded the Supreme Court’s decision.

“It’s a great day in Wisconsin; voter ID will finally be the law of the land,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). “The common sense law will help ensure honest and fair elections in our state and I look forward to the full implementation of voter ID in the coming months.”

Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) echoed the Speaker’s sentiment.

“After almost three years of lawsuits, today the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to attempts to delay Wisconsin’s voter ID law and confirmed what we already know: that voter ID is constitutional,” he said. “Ensuring the integrity of our elections is important to Wisconsin voters and plays a vital role in strengthening our democracy.”

But Democrats did not share the same view.

“I am disappointed by the failure of the United States Supreme Court to take up the challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law,” Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) said. “The Court’s inaction allows Wisconsin to institute a voter restrictive policy in the near future.”

The state’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) said the next planned statewide election where voter ID will be required would be the February 16, 2016 spring primary. Although, GAB Executive Director Kevin Kennedy expects special elections in 2015 where a photo ID will be required.