Voter ID Smackdown
According to the Court of Appeals decision, the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters made three primary arguments against the Photo ID law.
(1) the photo identification requirement impermissibly constitutes an "additional qualification" to vote not contained in Article III
(2) the requirement is unconstitutional under the Article III right to suffrage because it imposes a
restriction that is on its face so burdensome that it effectively denies potential voters their right to vote, and is therefore constitutionally "unreasonable."
(3) in creating the requirement, the legislature "exceeded the express authority granted to it" under Article III.
The Court of Appeals rejected all three arguments.
First, we conclude that the League’s "additional qualification" argument is defeated by concessions the League makes and by Wisconsin Supreme Court precedent addressing the authority of the legislature to enact laws allowing officials to ascertain at the polls which potential voters are qualified to vote.
Second, we reject the League’s additional, implied argument that the requirement is unconstitutional under the Article III right to suffrage because it imposes a restriction that is, on its face, so burdensome that it effectively denies potential voters their right to vote, and is therefore constitutionally "unreasonable."
Finally, as to the argument that, even if the requirement is not an "additional qualification" or constitutionally "unreasonable," the legislature exceeded its authority in enacting it, we conclude that this argument collapses with a concession by the League, which we believe is a warranted concession. The concession is that the legislature has implicit but broad constitutional authority to establish a voting registration system under which election officials may require potential voters to identify themselves as registered voters, including by requesting photo identification
With the arguments rejected, the court reversed the Circuit Court judgment.
"This appears to be a very sound decision rejecting a set of arguments that were never very strong to begin with," said Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. "It leaves open the possibility that the circuit court might take evidence on the nature of the burden that the photo ID requirement imposes on voters."