Earlier today Voces de la Frontera and the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP filed a lawsuit today in Dane County Wisconsin Circuit Court challenging Wisconsin’s Photo ID Law.
The lawsuit, which can be found here, asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional because it violates the right to vote under the Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution which – unlike the U.S. Constitution– explicitly guarantees all eligible Wisconsin residents the right to vote.
The Voces/NAACP lawsuit follows the same roadmap that Missouri voters used to successfully overturn the Missouri photo ID law in 2006, when the Missouri Supreme Court invalidated photo ID under the State of Missouri Constitution’s right to vote.
“The photo ID requirement is a repressive law aimed at deterring Latino voters from coming to the polls,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces. “The Wisconsin Constitution guarantees all citizens and Wisconsin residents the right to vote and we intend to ardently protect that right.”
NAACP President James Hall stated: “Hundreds of thousands of otherwise eligible Wisconsin voters lack acceptable photo ID under the new law. A very large number of these are African-American and Latino voters in Milwaukee. The photo ID law compels these voters to invest numerous hours, and days in many instances, dealing with various government agencies and bureaucracy just to get the documents like a birth certificate, social security cards, and other documents that are required to obtain a photo ID. Many voters also pay significant amounts for these documents, especially birth certificates.”
Twelve voters who have been forced to incur unreasonable amounts of time and expense attempting to obtain their photo IDs are also plaintiffs in the NAACP/Voces lawsuit. The individual plaintiffs have spent many days traveling and waiting at various government agencies.
Plaintiff Mary McClintock is a wheelchair-bound elector who had to take three trips via para-transit vans to the downtown DMV offices to obtain her photo ID to vote. Ms. McClintock stated: “I have voted in every election that I can remember. This is crazy that I would have to make three separate trips downtown just to be able to do what I have been doing my entire life.”
Another individual plaintiff, Ricky Lewis, who is an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, explained his unsuccessful odyssey to obtain photo ID this way:
“I have tried, and tried to get a photo ID so I can vote. I first came right here at the DMV to get my photo ID last summer. I showed them photo IDs – one from the V.A and one from Milwaukee County. I also showed them my discharge papers from the Marines. I showed them a utility bill. They said it wasn’t enough and they told me I needed a birth certificate and social security card.
So, I went to the social security office, but they couldn’t give me a social security card because I didn’t have a birth certificate. So I went over to the courthouse, and they didn’t have my birth certificate.
So I wrote a letter to Madison and the vital records office, and sent them a check for $20. They sent me back a birth certificate. But guess what? It had the wrong name – it had my name as Tyrone DeBerry. Tyrone is my middle name, and DeBerry is my mom’s maiden name. They said if you want to get your birth certificate corrected, you have to file a lawsuit in circuit court.
Well, I am not gonna do that. I am gonna stand up and fight with the people of Milwaukee, Voces, and the NAACP to protect everyone’s right to vote.”