Supreme Court denies voter ID law in WI

Sarah Patrick, Reporter

The Wisconsin voter ID laws have had a long and complex history. Signed into effect by Gov. Scott Walker in 2011, the law only impacted a low-turnout primary in 2012 before it was blocked by legal action. Most recently the Supreme Court blocked the law Oct. 9, four weeks before the election.
Previously, the decision of the 7th Circuit Panel reinstated the law mere weeks before the upcoming—and eagerly awaited—gubernatorial elections Nov. 4. The opposition requested a second hearing by a full ten-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court—known as an en banc review—which was denied in a 5-5 vote. This failed to reach a majority, and the law was thought to stay in place through the elections until the most recent Supreme Court decision.
Along the way, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project, two non-partisan interest groups who act on behalf of civil liberties, filed a request to the United States Supreme Court to block the decision of the 7th Circuit. They took to the request, and after a majority 6-3 vote the Supreme Court released an order to block the voter ID law from taking place through the Nov. 4 elections. However, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced in response that he would be seeking an alternative plan that would allow the controversial law to stand during the election. Whether voter ID requirements are implemented or effectively barred for elections can have a significant impact on the elections of Wisconsin and in other states attempting similar laws.
The current major concern is that reinstating the law would prevent people from obtaining or even realizing that proper ID is necessary. According to the Sept. 26 supporting opinion, since the law was originally enacted more than two years ago, all necessary procedures and faculties have been established, and voters have had more than enough time to obtain the necessary IDs. Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) has also requested the legislature release funds reserved to finance a state-wide awareness campaign.
On the other hand, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee stated that approximately 300,000 registered voters do not have one of the permissible forms of ID, such as driver’s licenses, state ID cards, passports, certain student IDs, military IDs, naturalization certificates, or IDs issued by Wisconsin tribes. The opposition also believes the reenactment of the law will “virtually [guarantee] substantial chaos,” and that “state’s election officials will be unable to properly prepare.”
Advanced Placement United States History teacher Mr. Keir agrees with this sentiment that voters would not be prepared to show the proper identification for the upcoming election and that it could deter their voting. “I believe it’s very irresponsible,” he said in an interview just before the Supreme Court decision. “I was talking to the woman who runs the polls in my area, and she’s worried people won’t know what to do.”
The U.S. Supreme Court halted the law’s enactment from the coming elections, but the case will be reopened for review at a later date. Its course of action will be decided during that time.