Foundation for Student Voters Files Suit Against Wisconsin Alleging Voter Suppression

This piece was originally published in The Hill on November 20th, 2019

A foundation that promotes student voters filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin Tuesday alleging the state is suppressing voters with its voter identification law.

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The Andrew Goodman Foundation filed the federal suit against six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission to challenge the state’s 2011 voter ID law that placed restrictions on using student IDs to vote, according to a release from the group. The group is arguing the law discriminates against student voters and violates the 26th Amendment.

“No other forms of permissible identification are subject to these onerous requirements,” the release states.

The law requires student IDs to include an issuance date, an expiration date of no more than two years from the date of issuance and a signature in order to be used for voting. It also mandates voters independently confirm their enrollment to have the ID accepted.

“These voter suppression schemes are part of an ongoing effort by the state of Wisconsin to restrict the voting rights of young adults as well as people of color and other marginalized communities, and sadly, it is working,” David Goodman, president of the foundation, said in the release.

The foundation asserts that the requirements are not important to verify a voter’s identity, no cases of student voter fraud have been reported and most universities and colleges in Wisconsin do not give IDs that follow the requirements, according to the lawsuit obtained by a local Milwaukee television station.

Wisconsin on average experienced the largest decreases in student voters between 2012 and 2016, along with Georgia and Mississippi, the release said, citing numbers from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison also found between 16,800 and 23,250 voters in two of the state’s counties could not vote in 2016 due to the law restricting eligible forms of ID.

Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said it has not been served the lawsuit, and it does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit is being paid for by Priorities USA Foundation, which is aligned with the Democratic group Priorities USA that has committed to spending at least $100 million in swing states to advocate against President Trump, according to the Milwaukee station.

The foundation is named after a civil rights activist who was killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964 while assisting African Americans in registering to vote.