On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman significantly weakened a key provision of Wisconsin’s stringent voter ID law, prohibiting the state from enforcing the measure in a manner that would effectively suppress thousands of votes. The law—supported almost exclusively by Republicans, purportedly to prevent voter fraud—requires citizens to present a state-approved ID card before voting. Under Adelman’s ruling, voters with no ID will have a legal right in November to instead sign an affidavit declaring that it would take “unreasonable effort” for them to obtain an ID, and then be allowed to vote.
Under Supreme Court precedent, Wisconsin is allowed to enact voter ID laws—but as Adelman explains, these measures cannot impose an “undue burden” on the constitutional right to vote. Wisconsin’s law does, especially for low-income and minorities residents. The act’s strict requirements force voters to go to “unreasonable lengths” to acquire these cards, compelling them to gather extensive documentation and make multiple trips to a government agency. Faced with these substantial obstacles, many poor voters are essentially locked out of the voting booth—a constitutionally intolerable result.