Wisconsin Officials Vehemently Defend Discriminatory Voting Law
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, June 03 2014 @ 03:17 PM EDT
Wisconsin Voter ID Law Abridges the Voting Rights of Communities of Color
WASHINGTON – The national civil rights group Advancement Project today challenged Wisconsin officials for seeking permission to rush implementation of a state law that erects barriers to the ballot box for seniors and communities of color. Gov. Scott Walker and state officials took exception to a federal judge’s ruling that declared Wisconsin’s voter ID law an unconstitutional violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Advancement Project, along with Co-counsel Arnold & Porter, today filed a brief excoriating the state for working to enshrine discrimination in state law. Our brief further demonstrated that the State’s arguments were “an improper caricature of this Court’s decision and the massive trial record supporting the Court’s factual and legal determinations.”
“It’s unfortunate Wisconsin state officials are using limited state resources in a desperate attempt to defend an unnecessary, arbitrarily administered, mean-spirited, and racially discriminatory voting measure,” said James Eichner, Managing Director for Programs for Advancement Project. “Wisconsin’s voter ID law is virtually indistinguishable from Jim Crow laws of earlier eras requiring poll taxes, property requirements, literacy tests and other contrived, racist measures used to prevent African Americans from voting. The measure denies and abridges the constitutionally protected right to vote, and is completely indefensible.”
African Americans and Latinos in Wisconsin have already suffered the effects of many generations of de jure and de facto discrimination in housing, education, employment, health, and other areas that leave them more likely to be excluded from the political process under this law. The voter ID law perpetuates this discrimination and needlessly impairs the opportunities of voters of color to participate in the political process.
“Wisconsin state officials continue to ignore that Section 2 outlaws not only those burdens that make it literally impossible to cast a vote — it also prohibits burdens that abridge the right to vote,” said Eichner. “Section 2 requires the voting process to be equally open to participation by voters of color, and prohibits rules and procedures that result in voters of color having less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process.”
“As the leading democracy in the world, it is our responsibility to ensure states do not put into place laws that hinder citizens’ inalienable right to vote,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair on the organization’s continuing efforts to block Voter ID in Wisconsin. “States across the nation have an obligation to ensure that citizens have equal access to the ballot.”