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Wisconsin federal judge upholds limits on student ID card use for voting

A federal judge in Wisconsin has backed the side of state laws restricting the use of college student ID cards for voter identification. The decision comes after government watchdog group Common Cause in Wisconsin filed a lawsuit claiming that the requirements placed on student ID cards were too stringent.

According to an Associated Press report, the lawsuit filed in Madison in April 2019 suggested that parts of the state’s voter ID law that mandates student ID cards include certain features were “irrational and unjustified.”

Wisconsin state law designates that in order for the credential to be used for identification to vote, a student ID card must display the student’s signature, an issuance date, and an expiration date that cannot be older than two years after the issuance date. The expiration date requirement would be a difficult hurdle for universities, in particular, as it would limit student IDs to a two-year lifespan.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson identified reasonable arguments in the plaintiffs’ complaint, but felt the laws challenged in the suit support the necessary constitutional and statutory items to remain in place.

The judge noted that because the requirements are commonplace for the ten other forms of identification acceptable for voting in Wisconsin, the plaintiffs could not prove those requirements discriminated against students specifically. The judge also noted that the requirements are rational for student IDs, in part, because credentials can vary based on the university and are not regulated by federal, state or tribal law.

“Under these circumstances, it would be rational for the legislature to conclude that statutorily imposed uniformity was appropriate for student IDs to discourage use of fake IDs and assist election workers in recognizing valid IDs,” said Judge Peterson.

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