Federal Court Upholds Strict Wisconsin Student ID Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin upheld a strict voter ID law that limits the type of student IDs that may be used to vote. Wisconsin voters must present one of 10 allowed forms of ID in order to cast a ballot. A university- or college-issued ID is acceptable, but only if it includes an issuance date, an expiration date not more than two years after the issuance date and a signature. In 2019, Common Cause in Wisconsin and an individual plaintiff filed a lawsuit challenging the strict requirements for student IDs, arguing that they create a barrier to voting for college students without any justifiable state interest in violation of the First and 14th Amendments. The lawsuit also argues that these requirements violate federal law because the absence of the required details are “immaterial omissions” that are not relevant to whether an individual is eligible to vote.

Today, the district court disagreed with the plaintiffs and entered judgment in favor of the defendants, closing the case. The court held that Common Cause did not have standing to challenge the student ID law because the organization failed to show that it has devoted resources to educating Wisconsin students on the voter ID law and it doesn’t identify any other injuries (the individual plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims in 2020 and is no longer participating in the lawsuit). On the merits, the court rejected Common Clause’s claim that the student ID requirements “are not uniformly imposed on all voters” and immaterial to a voter’s eligibility, holding that the required information “is material to a determination whether an individual may vote under Wisconsin law.” The court also rejected the argument that the student ID requirements are “irrational,” finding that “it is rational to impose requirements on a student ID that may not be required for other voter IDs” to ensure uniformity among eligible student IDs, to ensure the IDs are difficult to falsify and to aid election workers in recognizing eligible student IDs.

Read the opinion here.