What Documentation Does a Wisconsin Student Need to Vote?

On June 29, 2020, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided various election issues in the state of Wisconsin. One of the requirements under consideration involved student IDs.

The state of Wisconsin enacted a strict photo ID law in 2011 which, after much litigation, went into effect in 2015. In order to use a student ID as an acceptable document to vote, the Wisconsin-accredited university, college, or technical college ID must show the voter’s name, photo, signature, date of issuance, and a date of expiration that is within two years of the issuance date. The student also needed to provide proof of enrollment.

These requirements apply both at the polls or if the voter had not previously provided a copy of their photo ID with a prior absentee ballot application. Note that only four of the 16 University of Wisconsin campuses issue IDs that comply with the two-year expiration limitation.

On pages 19-20 of the Seventh Circuit’s opinion, the court found that requiring a “current” document both “serves a ‘legitimate governmental purpose’” and is applied to all other acceptable IDs except for those issued by “federally recognized Wisconsin tribes.”

However, the court’s language was sufficiently confusing that they have provided a clarification: If a student’s WI-Accredited College ID expires within two years after the issuance date, they need not also show proof of enrollment. Otherwise, if the ID expires beyond such two-year period, the student must also provide proof of enrollment. [Update on July 22, 2020]