A U.S. federal judge refused Monday a national civil rights group's request to expand the forms of photo identification that Wisconsin voters can use at the polls. The American Civil Liberties Union had asked the U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin in March to declare technical college IDs, out-of-state driver's licenses and veterans' photo IDs permissible for casting ballots under the state’s strict voter photo ID law.
In his written denial of the group’s request, Judge Lynn Adelman, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, said officials had not explicitly stated technical college ID aren’t acceptable, according to the Associated Press. The ACLU’s argument for out-of-state driver’s licenses is irrelevant, given that the plaintiffs who complained about the law also have acceptable U.S. passports, the judge said.
In his ruling, Adelman also said the plaintiffs seeking permission to use their veteran photo IDs have other acceptable forms of identification that can be used. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said the organization would look for other ways to challenge the state law.
"Wisconsinites face barriers to the polls due to the limited forms of ID mandated under the state's restrictive voter ID law,” Ho said in a statement released Monday. “It's unconscionable that even veterans, who have so valiantly served our country, can't use their government-issued IDs under this law,” he continued. “People should have a broader range of common-sense options.”
In 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a Voting Rights Act provision that regulated states with a history of voter discrimination, several states passed strict voter ID laws that disproportionately affect Democratic and racial minority voters. Alabama, which requires residents to show a state-issued photo ID at the polls, announced this month that it would close dozens of state Department of Motor Vehicles locations in areas that serve mostly black Democratic voters.
Federal courts previously struck down voter ID laws that were found to be discriminatory against minorities. In August, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled that a 2014 Texas law requiring voters to have specific IDs was discriminatory because the requirement did not include IDs commonly used by minorities and students, the AP reported.