Foundation Calls Students Voter ID Requirements Restricting, Sues Wisconsin Elections Commission

This student voter ID law creates undue burden for student voters, foundation says

This article was originally posted in The Badger Herald on November 21st, 2019. 

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is undergoing a lawsuit filed against its members based on student voter ID requirements.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation filed the lawsuit Tuesday in a Madison federal court. According to a news release from the foundation, the foundation believes the current student voter ID requirements are difficult, and prevent students from voting.

RUI SHEN/The Badger Herald

David Goodman, President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation, said in a press release their research shows students want to vote and do so when the process is fair and accessible.

“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,” Goodman said in the press release.

The lawsuit focused on provisions in a Republicans’ 2011 voter identification law. This law allows students to use their university issued student ID at the polls only if the card has an issuance date, the holder’s signature and an expiration date no later than two years after the issuance date. Plus, the holder needs other documentation proving student status in order to use their student ID at the polls as well.

The foundation’s release said this list of requirements isn’t needed to confirm a voter’s identity because student voter fraud has not been reported and most universities and colleges in Wisconsin, including the University of Wisconsin, don’t regularly issue student IDs that meet the requirements.

This means students must take extra steps to get a valid ID to use at the polls, their complaint said.

The foundation said the long list of requirements was strategically implemented by Republicans to prevent students from voting after young voters helped Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama win the state in 2008, according to the foundation’s complaint.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Communications Director Justyna Krygowska said the foundation has a long history with UW because Andrew Goodman attended UW. Goodman was the civil rights activist whom the foundation was named after. He was murdered as a college student for registering Black Americans to vote in Mississippi, Goodman said.

The foundation will continue to uphold Goodman’s legacy by fighting against actions that prevent people from voting, Goodman said.

“Our Constitution protects everyone’s right to vote,” Krygowska said. “This student voter ID law creates undue burden for student voters.”

It’s important everyone has equal access to the ballot, Krygowska said.

The Priorities USA Foundation funded the lawsuit. The foundation announced in February it would fund $30 million worth of court challenges to Republican-backed voter laws, according to the Associated Press.

Director of strategic communications and voting rights at Priorities USA Aneesa McMillan said the focus of the organization’s voting rights program is to address challenges facing the ballot box, especially challenges facing marginalized or disadvantaged communities and students.

“Our primary focus is in ensuring everyone who is eligible to vote can, and has unrestricted access to do so,” McMillan said.