On December 16, 2011, Attorney Richard Saks filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera in Dane County Wisconsin Circuit Court. The lawsuit challenges 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, aka, Wisconsin’s Photo ID Law. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional because it violates the right to vote under the Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which explicitly and broadly guarantees all eligible Wisconsin residents the right to vote, an explicit guarantee not even present in the U.S. constitution.
The NAACP/Voces lawsuit follows the identical roadmap that Missouri voters used to successfully overturn the Missouri photo ID law in 2006, when the Missouri Supreme Court invalidated photo ID under the State of Missouri Constitution’s right to vote. See Weinschenk v. Missouri, 203 S.W.3d 201 (2006).
NAACP President James Hall stated: “Hundreds of thousands of otherwise eligible Wisconsin voters lack acceptable photo ID under the new law. A very large number of these are African-American and Latino voters in Milwaukee. The photo ID law compels hundreds of thousands of such voters to invest numerous hours, and days in many instances, dealing with various government agencies and bureaucracy just to get the documents like birth certificate, social security cards, and other documents that are required to obtain a photo ID. Many voters also pay significant amounts for these documents, especially birth certificates”
Twelve voters who have been forced to incur unreasonable amounts of time and expense attempting to obtain their photo IDs are also plaintiffs in the NAACP/Voces lawsuit. The individual plaintiffs have spent many days traveling and waiting at various government agencies.
Plaintiff Mary McClintock is a wheelchair-bound elector who had to take three trips via para-transit vans to the downtown DMV offices to obtain her photo ID to vote. Ms. McClintock stated: “I have voted in every election that I can remember. This is crazy that I would have to make three separate trips downtown just to be able to do what I have been doing my entire life.”
Plaintiff Danettea Lane, a mother and head of household of four children whose sole source of income is a monthly W-2 check in the amount of $608, had to pay $20 for a birth certificate to the County and also make four different trips to the DMV offices to finally obtain her photo ID in order to vote.
Another individual plaintiff, Ricky Lewis, who is an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, explained his unsuccessful odyssey to obtain photo ID this way:
“I have tried, and tried to get a photo ID so I can vote. I first came right here at the DMV to get my photo ID last summer. I showed them all kinds of ID. I showed them photo IDs – one from the V.A and one from Milwaukee County. I also showed them my discharge papers from the Marines. I showed them a utility bill. They said it wasn’t enough and they told me I needed a birth certificate and social security card. So, I went to the social security office, but they couldn’t give me a social security card because I didn’t have a birth certificate. So I went over to the courthouse, and they didn’t have my birth certificate. So I wrote a letter to Madison and the vital records office, and sent them a check for $20. They sent me back a birth certificate. But guess what. It had the wrong name – it had my name as Tyrone DeBerry. Tyrone is my middle name, and DeBerry is my mom’s maiden name. They said if you want to get your birth certificate corrected, you have to file a lawsuit in circuit court. Well, I am not gonna do that. I am gonna stand up and fight with the people of Milwaukee, and the NAACP, and protect everyone’s right to vote and get rid of Gov. Walker’s Photo ID law.”