Common Cause Wisconsin, Fair Elections Center & Others Challenge Wisconsin’s Requirements for Student IDs Used as Voter ID

WISCONSIN – Today, Fair Elections Center and Pines Bach LLP filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, on behalf of Common Cause in Wisconsin and individual plaintiff Ben Quintero, challenging Wisconsin’s unnecessary requirements for student IDs to qualify as voter ID.

The lawsuit argues that the student ID requirements are a pointless barrier for casting a ballot in Wisconsin. Most students are newly registered voters and new to the voting process. These unnecessary requirements on student IDs can confuse and deter these new voters rather than making elections more accessible for them. The lawsuit is challenging specific student ID requirements, not the voter ID law as a whole.

“The completely unnecessary hoops that the Wisconsin voter ID law forces students to jump through to be able to vote, need to be eliminated,” said Jay Heck, the long-time director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. “These pointless obstacles create confusion, frustration, and ultimately disillusionment with what should be a simple, and uncomplicated process for students to be able to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. This suit seeks to remove these superfluous barriers.”

”Busy students with exams and jobs already bring multiple documents to the polls in order to register and vote on Election Day, but Wisconsin law requires them to request a separate form of photo ID that displays information poll workers do not need or use,” said Jon Sherman, Senior Counsel at Fair Elections Center. “Just as states cannot lawfully require voters to bring a toothbrush or sandwich to the polls, they cannot insist a voter present useless or irrelevant information.”

Wisconsin’s current voter ID law singles out student voters, requiring information election and poll workers do not need or use if the voter presents a college or university photo ID when they cast a ballot. Current law allows Wisconsin students to use their campus photo ID if it contains their name, photo, issuance date, an expiration date not more than two years after the issuance date, and the student’s signature. Students must also show proof of current enrollment, such as an enrollment verification letter or tuition fee receipt. This proof of enrollment requirement makes issuance and expiration dates unnecessary and irrational for student ID cards, and other forms of accepted ID do not have expiration dates and are indefinitely valid.

The lawsuit also claims the signature requirement is unnecessary. Wisconsin’s voter ID law does not require election officials and poll workers to match the signature on an ID with the voter’s signature on the poll book or voter registration form, and other forms of accepted voter ID, such as Veterans Health Identification Cards and some tribal ID cards, do not contain signatures.

The full text of the complaint can be found here.