Wisconsin Judge Protects the Right to Vote

March 12, 2012

The Brennan Center for Justice released the following statement from Keesha Gaskins, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, in response to a Dane County Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge’s issuing a permanent injunction against a new state law requiring voter identification after finding the law unconstitutional under the Wisconsin state constitution:

“The court ruled today in favor of democracy. Through this decision, the judge affirmed that the Wisconsin constitution cannot accept laws that make it impossible for otherwise eligible citizens to vote.

“Proponents of restrictive voter laws should learn from today’s ruling, and from the U.S. Department of Justice's objections to restrictive laws in Texas and South Carolina, that the right to vote is fundamental. We are pleased that state courts and the federal government have acknowledged this fact.”

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. challenged the new Wisconsin law based on the state constitution. The League was concerned about the many eligible voters who would be disenfranchised by the new law. Last week, in a different lawsuit brought by the Milwaukee NAACP, a Dane County Judge issued a temporary injunction against the same law.

Eight states passed restrictive voter ID laws in 2011 according to a Brennan Center report, which found that new restrictive voting laws could adversely impact nearly 5 million eligible voters.