Wisconsin Voter ID Law Back In Court

On the last day of testimony in the trial in the renewed, as-applied challenge to Wisconsin's voter ID law, U.S. District Judge James Peterson made clear that he believes that the case will be appealed regardless of his ultimate decision. Still, Peterson has already announced that the law will remain in place through the August elections and noted that he hopes to make a ruling “by the end of July”. Here is an overview of the arguments and expert witnesses involved in the recent Wisconsin Voter ID case.

The turnout in [the April] election — the state's highest in a presidential primary since 1972 — is a central part of the state's case. Lawyers for the state have frequently noted the increased turnout in elections that have occurred since the state's voter ID law was passed in 2011 and emphasized that the DMV provides free IDs to those who need them.

Both sides have expert witnesses on their lists to help bolster their arguments — and attempt to discredit the expert witnesses whose reports conflict with their stance. 

The State is using two high-profile experts in M.V. Hood III, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia, and Nolan McCarty, a Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. The conclusions of the defense’s experts include:

M.V. Hood III:

"…Wisconsin’s election code provides a reasonable and common sense approach to the manner in which elections are conducted in the state. Further, Wisconsin has acted to continue to make elections more manageable, fair, and efficient (i.e. standardization for in person absentee voting days and hours). As well, the electoral climate in the state can be characterized as extremely positive as evidenced by the fact that in three of the last four federal election cycles Wisconsin recorded the second highest voter turnout rate in the country."

"The recent changes to in-person absentee voting in Wisconsin represent a means by which voter convenience can be balanced against the cost, both literal and administrative, for providing this service."


"…the rate at which absentee ballots have been rejected has fallen, not risen, over the last two federal election cycles. My examination of Wisconsin’s registration process involving the end of corroboration determined that this change instituted a fair and consistent standard for all electors in the state. Finally, increasing the residency requirement to 28 days places Wisconsin firmly in line with other states that have similar requirements."

"…there appears to be more than ample opportunity, time, and convenience for voters to accomplish this duty (of voting) in the State of Wisconsin."

"I can think of no reason that would lead me believe that the changes undertaken to Wisconsin’s election code under challenge in this case have, or will have, a detrimental impact on the ability of Wisconsin voters to cast a ballot, including minority voters."


Nolan McCarty:

"Clearly, I believe that there are many reasons to doubt (Kenneth Mayer's) conclusions. First, rather than observing a 'significantly lowered … probability that a voter [could] cast a ballot in 2014,' I documented that turnout increased markedly from 2010 to 2014 for racial minorities as well as for whites. In proportional terms (measured by the odds ratio), the turnout increases among the registered and citizen voting age population were at least as large for African-Americans as they were for whites."


"The findings suggesting the absence or smaller effects on racial minorities, students, young voters, and those without ID may largely be attributable to a variety of attrition biases, measurement error, and misinterpreted findings."


"…I find little evidence that the changes in Wisconsin electoral law had any significant partisan effect. The 2014 gubernatorial election was almost an exact replay of 2010 both in terms of vote shares and turnout at the municipal level. Nor did I find evidence that changes to absentee balloting reduced its usage by any racial or ethnic group."


Liberal’s and the left continue to attack the common sense voter ID regulations across the country, more often than not using the same illogical arguments over and over again unsuccessfully. Most recently courts have upheld state laws in the landmark voter ID cases in Virginia and North Carolina. At some point, the left must realize that election integrity is a crucial piece of the voting process and it is necessary to encourage voter involvement in elections. This should not come as a surprise to many as several polls have shown a great deal of public support for the laws.