US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Voting rights victory: Wisconsin strikes down voter ID laws

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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A federal judge’s decision today in Wisconsin is a victory for voting rights. This afternoon, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman struck down the law that requires Wisconsin voters to show state-issued photo identification before casting their votes. Adelman came to the conclusion that the law was unconstitutional. This makes Wisconsin the second state in a week to make this decision. Arkansas struck down its voter ID law just four days ago.

It’s no secret that laws like this—as well as many factors that restrict voters at the polls—target minorities and low-income voters. By requiring an ID, an estimated 11 percent of voters (or more than 21 million citizens) are unable to vote due to the fact that the do not possess a government-issued photo ID. Identification can be difficult to obtain due to their cost or problems with necessary paperwork (missing or vague birth certificates).

Some argue that voter ID laws help reduce chance of fraud, which it may do to some degree, but the costs outweigh the benefits to requiring identification. Eleven percent of citizens—many of them impoverished and belong to minorities—is a lot of citizens and a lot of votes lost.

Last July, the Catholic Church finally took a stand for voting rights. It is time we join the bishops and follow Wisconsin and Arkansas in taking a stand against voter suppression.