Wisconsin’s voter ID law imposes the equivalent of a poll tax on individuals with out-of-state drivers licenses and discriminates against the poor, students and the elderly, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday.
ACLU lawyers argue in a 54-page lawsuit that the law “imposes a severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; violates the Twenty-Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as an unconstitutional poll tax; and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in arbitrarily refusing to accept certain identification documents.”
The suit argues that the law would force individuals to “choose between surrendering their driving privileges to obtain a free Wisconsin state ID card, paying a fee for a Wisconsin driver’s license, or losing their right to vote.” They argue that the requirement to surrender an out-of-state driver’s license “constitutes a material requirement imposed on an eligible voter who refuses to forfeit his/her right to vote without paying an unconstitutional poll tax.”
Notably, Wisconsin is not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which requires certain states to get changes to their voting laws pre-cleared by the Justice Department.
In making their case, the ACLU gathered 17 voters — from a 84-year-old woman without a certified birth certificate to a 52-year-old homeless Army veteran to a 20-year old without a Social Security card to a 19-year-old college student who doesn’t want to give up his California driver’s license — to demonstrate the effect the law could have.
The suit comes ahead of Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech on protecting access to the polls.