Wisconsin COVID-19 Election Relief*
DNC v. Bostelmann
Challenging four Wisconsin laws which, in light of the unprecedented crisis caused by the coronavirus, severely burden Wisconsin voters’ right to vote in the upcoming April 7, 2020 primary election and all elections taking place during this unprecedented situation. As Wisconsin voters are forced to socially distance themselves to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, in person registration and voting are no longer safe options and voters must turn to electronic and mail registration and voting. However, Wisconsin’s current electronic and by-mail registration deadline, Wisc. Stat. § 6.28(1), requires that copies of proof of residence and voter ID accompany electronic and by-mail voter registration and absentee applications, id. § 6.34, 6.86, respectively; and require that absentee ballots be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day to be counted, id. § 687. These restrictions all pose significant risks to voters seeking to exercise their right to vote. These laws set up an unconscionable choice between voters’ safety and their fundamental right to vote. Plaintiffs seek to have them enjoined and request that the current electronic and by-mail deadline get extended until April 3, 2020, the Court enjoin Wisconsin’s requirements that voters provide copies or scans of proof of residence and voter ID documentation until the COVID-19 crisis is over and that absentee ballots postmarked on or before election day and received within 10 days be counted. These challenges are made under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Wisconsin Student ID
Andrew Goodman Foundation v. Bostelmann
Challenge to Wisconsin’s restrictions on student IDs for use in voting; namely, that a student ID include the issuance date, an expiration date no more than 2 years from the date of issuance, and a signature, and that the voter who wishes to use the student ID independently prove current enrollment. The State saw a steep decline in student voter turnout after the student voter ID restrictions took effect. The law advances no legitimate state interest—such as preventing voter fraud. Instead, it simply burdens, or “abridges” young voter’s right to vote—specifically to make it harder for young voters to vote because they are young voters. The suit seeks a declaration that the student voter ID law is unconstitutional, as well as preliminary and permanent injunction of the law.
Wisconsin Special Elections
Newton v. Walker
Obtained a writ of mandamus requiring Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin to call special elections in two legislative districts left vacant when the former office holders resigned to take positions in the Governor’s administration. In the process of the litigation, which occurred over a span of four weeks, the case was argued before two different judges and presented to three different courts. At each stage, the courts ruled in favor of the eight Wisconsin voters on whose behalf the case was filed, culminating in an order issued by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, which, in denying Governor Walker’s request for an extension of time to comply with the writ of mandamus, wrote: “We … disagree with the Governor’s assertion that the special elections ‘are an unnecessary waste of taxpayer resources and confusing to voters.’ . . . Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ [and] never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources.’” Governor Walker complied with the court order and called the special elections on March 29, 2018.
Wisconsin In-Person Absentee Voting
One Wisconsin v. Thomsen et al.
Challenging a provision that would have limited in-person absentee voting to one location per municipality.