The Andrew Goodman Foundation Files Lawsuit Against the State of Wisconsin for Restricting the Voting Rights of Students

The Andrew Goodman Foundation is suing the 6 members of the Wisconsin Elections Committee for restrictions imposed on the use of student IDs for voting. The law requires that a student ID include the issuance date, an expiration date of no more than 2 years from the date of issuance, and a signature. A voter who wishes to use a student ID must also independently prove current enrollment. No other forms of permissible identification are subject to these onerous requirements. The legal challenge was filed today in federal court and argues that these restrictions are intentionally designed to discriminate against student voters in violation of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which outlaws denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of age.

From 2012 to 2016, the state of Wisconsin, on average, had the largest decreases along with Georgia and Mississippi in student voting rates according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University.  This data is consistent with a more general study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison that analyzed 2 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and concluded that 16,800 to 23,250 voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties were deterred from casting ballots in the 2016 elections because of Wisconsin’s restrictions on eligible forms of identification.

“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. Our research demonstrates that students want to vote and do so when the process is fair and accessible. However, what we continue to see in Wisconsin and other states around the country is that as student voter participation increases so do state-sponsored efforts to restrict their access to the ballot box,” explained David Goodman, President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “This assault on the voting rights of students in Wisconsin has personal significance to our organization. My brother and our organization’s namesake, Andrew Goodman, who was murdered as a college student for registering Black Americans to vote in Mississippi, is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin. We will continue to uphold his legacy by fighting against any attempts to infringe on our nation’s most fundamental right. One person, one vote is the foundation of our democracy.”

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin and seeks a declaration that the legal restrictions on the use of student IDs for voting are unconstitutional and seeks to enjoin the law. 

Co-counsel on the lawsuit is Yael Bromberg, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights for The Andrew Goodman Foundation, and Principal of Bromberg Law LLC. The lawsuit is supported and funded by Priorities USA Foundation, a nonpartisan c3 committed to protecting the right to vote for every American. Over the past several years, the Priorities USA Foundation has sponsored and filed lawsuits in several states fighting against repressive voting laws meant to restrict citizens’ right to vote by imposing unconstitutional and unnecessary burdens.

Click here to read the complaint.

About The Andrew Goodman Foundation

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training young leaders, engaging low-propensity voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program partners with America’s colleges and universities to provide resources, visibility, and mentoring to a national network of student leaders who involve their peers in participatory democracy through long-term voter engagement, public policy, and social justice initiatives. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a Freedom Summer volunteer and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered by the KKK in 1964 at 20 years old while registering African Americans to vote in Mississippi.