Opponents ask court to relax Wisconsin voter ID requirements

AP News
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Posted: Oct 05, 2015 3:36 PM

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Opponents of Wisconsin's voter identification law argued in federal court Monday that the legislation is improperly restrictive and should be expanded to allow people to use more forms of ID.

The case represents the latest push from the American Civil Liberties Union against a law that has been the focus of a string of legal battles since it was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker four years ago.

Supporters of the legislation say its requirements help guard against election fraud, but opponents say its true intent is to make voting tougher for older, poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats and are less likely to have the mandated forms of identification. Those include a Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card, a U.S. passport, military ID card, college IDs meeting certain requirements, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a Wisconsin-based American Indian tribe.

Assistant Attorney General Clayton Kawski defended the legislation, saying the ACLU is asking the court to overstep its authority and rewrite the law, acting as a sort of "super-Legislature."

Judge Lynn Adelman didn't rule on the request, and it was unclear when he might do so.

Attorney Sean Young, of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, asked for the judge to make changes in time for the February primary. He said the law as written violates the Constitution's equal protection clause.

Young said allowed forms of ID should include veterans' health identification cards, technical college IDs, and out-of-state driver's licenses for college students and snowbirds. He also asked that voters without the mandated forms of identification be allowed to cast ballots after signing an affidavit swearing to their identity under penalty of perjury.

Kawski, however, said the ACLU request should be denied and focused the state's defense on the details of the opposition's argument.

He said the ACLU's plaintiff group has been too loosely defined to merit legal standing and that many of the named individuals have acquired the very forms of ID they said they had been denied. He also said the state Government Accountability Board's has revised its interpretation of the law to allow technical college IDs, rendering that complaint moot.

Kawski said the opponents are simply unhappy with the Legislature and are asking the court to change a valid law.