Monday, October 6, 2014

Expert legal blog rips Seventh Circuit voter ID opinion

If you want to know what an authoritative legal scholar thought of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that validated of Wisconsin's voter ID law, I recommend you read this passionate and informed posting by professor and Election Law Blog author Rick Hasen.

Spoiler alert. the word "horrendous" is in the title. And from the heart of the blog posting, and conclusion:

The opinion puts forward the narrowest test yet I’ve seen for deciding when a vote denial type claim (which [opinion author Judge Frank Easterbrook calls a voter qualification claim) violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. He cites statistics showing whites are much, more more likely than blacks in Milwaukee to have a driver’s license (the easiest form of voter id to use in WI if you have it).  No big deal he says: black voting rates are high enough, and so long as “everyone has the same opportunity to get a qualifying voter ID” in Wisconsin there can be no voting rights violation. Never mind that because of past discrimination African-American voters are on average poorer and will have a harder time coming up with the money for the underlying documents for a voter id. The rich and poor can both sleep under bridges. To Easterbrook, one just “scrounges” the money to get the birth certificate—there is no sensitivity that not everyone is as rich as a federal judge...
What bothers me most is the dismissive tone. But it is unsurprising. The evidence on the stay motion was uncontradicted (and conceded by the state of Wisconsin) that out of state voters won’t have time to get the underlying documents they need in time for the next election. Such disenfranchisement is no big deal for Judge Easterbrook.
The Journal Sentinel's take on the opinion is here

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