MILWAUKEE -- By most accounts, Wisconsin's new Voter ID Law passed its first test during the primary election Tuesday. However, according to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Thursday, the law should not have passed through the state Legislature.
Milwaukee Pastor Ken Wheeler and four other plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit, challenging Wisconsin's new Voter ID Law.
This latest suit charges that the law is illegal and racially-discriminatory under the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. "We ought not be making difficult what ought to be easy. It is our deepest shame that we must now, again, fight these same hurdles almost 50 years later," Denise Lieberman with Advancement Project said.
The Washington D.C.-based Advancement Project is leading the lawsuit and says the biggest hurdle involves specific groups of Wisconsinites that have more difficulty than others obtaining a valid ID for voting. "In Wisconsin, half of the state's African American and Latino citizens don't have a state ID," Lieberman said.
The plaintiffs say it's not just having a valid ID that's a concern, but also the confusion they say is created by the new law. "After Tuesday's election, the first election that utilized this bill, I still receive calls, emails, get stopped on the street, from people who were disenfranchised on Tuesday," Alderwoman Milele Coggs said.
In response to the lawsuit filed Thursday, a spokesperson for the Republican National Lawyers Association issued the following statement: "There are at least 15 other states that have similar laws. Wisconsin is one of few states that allows Election Day registration, which the Milwaukee Police Department documented in 2006, allows for potential fraud."
The spokesperson describes the Voter ID Law as a balance for the potential for fraud, adding: "Everybody wants to make it easier to vote, which same-day registration addresses. They also want to make it harder to cheat, which the Voter ID Law addresses."
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the named defendant, did not have any comment. A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office says the Department of Justice hasn't reviewed the lawsuit yet.