One Wisconsin Institute Files Post-Trial Brief in Case Against Gov. Walker Attacks on Voter Rights

‘The Evidence is Clear: Gov. Walker Made It Harder for Democrats to Vote and Easier for Republicans to Cheat’

MADISON, Wis. — Plaintiffs in the federal voting rights trial One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v Gerald Nichol et. al. have submitted their post-trial brief in the case. Federal Judge James Peterson has scheduled final arguments in the case for June 30 at the federal courthouse in Madison.

“The evidence is clear: Gov. Scott Walker made it harder for Democrats to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat,” said One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross. “Gov. Walker and the Republicans passed these laws to give themselves partisan advantage by suppressing the votes of African Americans, Latinos, and young voters — and the evidence at trial showed it’s working.”

Key points from the evidence and trial raised in One Wisconsin Institute’s brief:

  • The evidence showed that African Americans, Latinos, and voters living in student wards are less likely than other voters to possess ID. One of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, Dr. Ken Mayer from the political science department at UW-Madison, found that 8.4% of Wisconsinites overall but 21.4% of people who live in student wards do not possess a DMV-issued ID. (Brief at 232-33) The non-possession rate for whites was 8.3%, for African Americans was 9.8%, and for Latinos was 11.1%. (Brief at 186).
  • According to an expert for the State, as a result of the voter ID law, African Americans and Latinos have been far more likely than whites to have to make a trip—often multiple trips—to the DMV and to wait in line for an ID. Although African Americans make up 5.6% of Wisconsin’s citizen voting-age population (CVAP), they have obtained 42% of the free IDs that have been issued for voting. Latinos, who are 3.2% of the CVAP in Wisconsin, have obtained 8.7% of the free IDs. (Brief at 130-31).
  • Over 2/3 of the people who have had to use the special ID petition process are minorities. (Brief at 131). This is the process for voters seeking a free ID who don’t have certain required documentation such as a birth certificate or whose documents have trivial errors on them.
  • Of the people who received letters from the DMV formally denying their petitions for an ID—effectively, denying them the right to vote—the first 14 were all African American or Latino. Of the 61 people who have received denial letters so far, 87% are minorities (who make up 11-12% of the CVAP in Wisconsin). (Brief at 131-32). A chart of the people who received denial letters (with the faces covered for petitioners who aren’t plaintiffs in the case) is at page 134.
  • Milwaukee’s share of statewide weekend in-person absentee voting was 53.5% in 2010, 41.8% in the 2012 recall, and 41.6% in the 2012 general election. (Brief at 141). Weekend early voting was subsequently eliminated. Also, approximately 60,000 people used in-person absentee voting on the Monday before the 2008 election. (Brief at 26). That day of early voting was eliminated as part of Act 23, the voter ID bill.
  • The gap in turnout between whites and African Americans and Latinos increased from 2010 to 2014. (Brief at 180). Significantly, almost all of the provisions challenged in our case were implemented between 2010 and 2014. In addition, Milwaukee’s turnout in presidential primaries was 1.8% below the rest of the state in 2008, but the gap increased to 3.4% in 2012 (when some of the challenged provisions were in place), and to 10% this year (when all of the challenged provisions were in place). (Brief at 179-80).
  • Almost certainly because of the one-location rule for early voting, Milwaukee and Madison had lower rates of early voting usage than the rest of the state in 2008 and 2010. In 2014, after the cutbacks to early voting had taken effect, the gap between Milwaukee and Madison and the rest of the state increased. (Brief at 197-98, 229).
  • Analysis by Dr. Mayer indicates that the gap in turnout between student wards and other wards increased substantially from 2010 to 2014. (Brief at 236).
  • In the April primary, the voter ID law had a particularly notable impact on precincts with large student populations. (Brief at 234).
  • The brief discusses the significance of Senator Lazich’s and then-Senator Grothman’s closed-door Republican Caucus statements at several points. E.g., (Brief at 165-66).
    • Then, Senator Lazich, who was the Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections, “got up out of her chair and she hit her fist . . . or her finger on the table and she said ‘Hey, we’ve got to think about what this could mean for the neighborhoods around Milwaukee and the college campuses across this state.’”
    • But Senator Grothman, the Assistant Leader, “cut him off and said ‘Well, you know what? What I’m concerned about here is winning and that’s what really matters here. And you know as well as I do the Democrats would do this if they had the ability to use everything in their power to get things done, so we better get this done quickly while we still have the opportunity.’”
  • There are also quotes about how the reductions to in-person absentee voting was designed to reduce access to voting in Milwaukee. (Brief at 167-68).
  • As page 157 indicates, one of the plaintiffs’ experts, a historian who has testified in approximately 80 voting-rights cases, concluded that the magnitude of the voter-suppression program in Wisconsin is unprecedented: “‘[T]he sheer magnitude of 8 Acts and some 15 measures limiting access to registration and voting is unprecedented nationwide.’ PX036 at 47 (Lichtman). Indeed, ‘[t]aken together these many laws, some with multiple provisions, comprised the largest set of restrictive electoral measures enacted anywhere in America in recent years.’ PX036 at 59 (Lichtman); see also PX067 at 3:7-8 (Dale Schultz Interview) (‘[W]e’ve had about 25 bills that deal with elections and voting.’).”
  • The GAB’s Lead Election Specialist acknowledged that none of the provisions challenged in this case make it easier to vote. (Brief at 163-64).
  • The brief points out that state officials have identified three separate “emergencies” relating to the implementation of the voter ID law—one in 2014 and two on the eve of the trial in this case. (Brief at 158)
  • The Appendix describes the last-minute changes the State has made to the ID petition process in the months leading up to and even during the trial.

The brief submitted can be accessed here.

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