Advocates To Challenge Wisconsin’s Anti-Voting Law In Federal Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  

October 30, 2013                                         

Contact: Jennifer Farmer, Advancement Project

 Email: jfarmer@advancementproject.org   

Phone: 202.728.9557, ext. 341

ADVOCATES TO CHALLENGE WISCONSIN’S ANTI-VOTING LAW IN FEDERAL COURT

Thousands of African American and Latino Voters Will Be Adversely Impacted if Wisconsin Photo ID Law Goes Into Effect

Washington, D.C. – With deceptively little fanfare or attention, a federal judge in Wisconsin is poised to preside over the first trial challenging the state’s 2011 restrictive photo ID law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On November 4, 2013, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman will hear a challenge brought by Advancement Project and pro bono counsel Arnold & Porter. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act bars racially discriminatory voting practices. The statute is taking on increased importance in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder where the court blocked preclearance protections under Section 5 of the law.

“As the leading democracy of the world, the U.S. should work to keep our voting system free, fair, and accessible to all Americans,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair. “Yet we are witnessing the greatest assault on voting rights in decades.”

According to evidence submitted to the court in 2012, close to 28,000 African American and 12,000 Hispanic voters lack a driver’s license or state ID. The numbers equal roughly 16% of African American and 24.8% of Hispanic voters, compared to 9.5% of white voters, who may face difficulty casting a ballot because they lack the required documentation.

In the aftermath of the Shelby decision, most media attention has focused on states with particularly egregious histories of disenfranchising voters of color. The Wisconsin case should not be forgotten. The anti-voting measure in Wisconsin is part of a broader attack on the right to vote. In the two years leading up to the 2012 election we witnessed the greatest assault on voting rights since passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with a wave of regressive policies passed or proposed in a majority of states. These measures included restrictive voter ID laws, cuts to early voting, voter roll purges, “show me your papers” proof-of-citizenship practices, and voter challenges at the polls. The unprecedented flood of tactics disproportionately affects voters of color, who are less likely to have state-issued photo ID, more likely to use early voting, more likely to be naturalized citizens, and more likely to be targeted for polling place intimidation.

“After Shelby, Section 2 provides one of the last lines of defense against legislatures that would disenfranchise voters of color,” Hair said. “The strength of that defense will be tested for the first time in this case and we are confident it will prevail."

For more information, please contact Jennifer Farmer, at jfarmer@advancementproject.org, or 202.728.9557, ext. 341.

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