UPDATE: On December 20, 2023, the Wisconsin Elections Commission decided two complaints in favor of our clients, confirming that voters cannot be required to show their photo ID when returning absentee ballots.

On Tuesday, 8/9/22, we filed a complaint in the Wisconsin Elections Commission regarding new obstacles to voting. While Law Forward disagrees with the Teigen ruling, we understand that municipal clerks must figure out ways to follow the Court’s decision. It is our understanding that some clerks and municipalities have, in the wake of Teigen’s new interpretation of our laws, created new procedures or requirements for returning absentee ballots. We are confident that these procedures were put in place by clerks to make sure that every ballot is counted, which is a goal we all share. However, creating new barriers to voting, like requesting a photo ID to return an absentee ballot, has the effect of disenfranchising voters. The WEC and Wisconsin law are clear that only the Legislature, subject to the approval or veto of the Governor, can create new procedures or requirements for voters. This includes adding new photo ID requirements.

For that reason, we filed a complaint with the WEC, asking it to order the Clerk of the City of West Allis to end a new policy of requiring photo ID from voters returning their absentee ballot in person. With very few exceptions, absentee voters must provide their photo identification when requesting their absentee ballot. Requiring those voters to present ID again is not permitted under Wisconsin law. Of course, all absentee voting is subject to strong protections including the requirement that the voter be observed by a witness who swears to their identity and the voting procedure.

Law Forward and our partners are deeply appreciative of all the work clerks and other election officials do to run safe and efficient elections. We understand the added difficulties caused by an uncertain legal landscape and threats from anti-democratic actors. We will, however, do whatever we can to dismantle any inappropriate and unlawful barriers to voting. We will always protect free and fair elections in Wisconsin. On behalf of our client, we look forward to a speedy and successful resolution of this complaint, ensuring that other voters are not subject to this new, duplicative, photo ID requirement when returning their ballots.