ACLU’s Federal Challenge to WI GOP’s Photo ID Restrictions Could Reverse Similar Laws Nationwide
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/15/2011 6:29am
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Election laws in Wisconsin are not covered by Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which would otherwise require the Dept. of Justice or a federal panel of judges to “preclear” such laws to assure they are not discriminatory. Thus, it falls to non-governmental organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), to take legal action in hopes of protecting Constitutional voting rights for citizens of the Badger State.
That’s exactly what the organization did this week, in filing a 54-page federal complaint on behalf of some 17 named plaintiffs — including elderly, student, minority and even veteran voters — who may well be unable to cast their once-legal vote under the state’s new voter suppression bill passed earlier this year by its GOP legislature and signed into law by its Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The lead plaintiff in Frank vs. Walker [PDF], the ACLU’s class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, seeking to halt enforcement of the state’s new photo ID voting restrictions, is 84-year old Ruthelle Frank.
As we previously reported, Frank has been a lawful resident of Brokaw, WI since her home birth in 1927. Although she has voted in every election since 1948 and is an elected member of the Brokaw Village Board, she learned that she may be barred from voting come February 2012 because she lacks one of the official photo IDs mandated by that state’s new vote-suppressing photo ID law.
The fact that Paul Weyrich was a co-founder of the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC) , the billionaire-funded organization that has drafted the models for these voter-suppression laws, is significant.“I don’t want everybody to vote,” Weyrich extolled while addressing a right-wing Christian audience in 1980 (see haunting video at right). “[O]ur leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down,” he added after denigrating those who seek “good government” through maximum, informed voter participation as people who suffer from the “goo goo syndrome.”