by Amanda Terkel
WASHINGTON — A Wisconsin judge declared a state law requiring people to show photo ID in order to be allowed to vote unconstitutional on Monday, issuing a permanent injunction blocking the state from implementing the measure.
“Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government,” wrote Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in his decision. “The legislature and governor may certainly take aggressive action to prevent its occurrence. But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the monster.”
The decision comes less than a week after another judge temporarily halted the implementation of the voter ID law.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court in October. Lester Pines, an attorney with the firm Cullen Weston Pines & Bach who is working on the case, told The Huffington Post at the time that their argument against the voter ID law was quite simple: It violates the provision in the Wisconsin constitution that determines who can vote.
Niess agreed with this argument:
Article III is unambiguous, and means exactly what it says. It creates both necessary and sufficient requirements for qualified voters. EveryUnited States citizen 18 years of age or older who resides in an election district in Wisconsin is a qualified elector in that district, unless excluded by duly enacted laws barring certain convicted felons or adjudicated incompetents/partially incompetents.The government may not disqualify an elector who possesses those qualifications on the grounds that the voter does not satisfy additional statutorily-created qualifications not contained in Article III, such as a photo ID.
He added that a “government that undermines the very foundation of its existence — the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote — imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed the voter ID bill into law in May, calling it a “common sense reform” that would “go a long way to protecting the integrity of elections in Wisconsin.”
“It’s a shame activist Dane County judges continue to stand in the way of common sense,” said Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Walker. “We are confident the state will prevail in its plan to implement photo ID.”
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) he plans to appeal the decision.
“In its rush to enact a Voter ID law, the Wisconsin Legislature failed to pay attention to the Wisconsin Constitution. Luckily, the League of Women Voters had the courage to stand up and defend the fundamental right of to vote that our constitution guarantees,” said Pines. “The proponents of Voter ID assert that it is meant to prevent fraud. We all know the truth: it is designed to suppress voting by poor people and students. Now, in Wisconsin, that will not happen.”
A Voter ID law was also blocked in Texas on Monday. The Justice Department’s civil rights division objected to the requirement, arguing that many Hispanic voters lack state-issued IDs.
Go here to read the ruling.