Second judge rejects Wisconsin voter ID law

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A second judge on Tuesday declared Wisconsin’s voter identification law unconstitutional, further guaranteeing that the ID requirement won’t be in place for this fall’s elections.

Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan ruled that the state’s requirement that all voters show photo ID at the polls creates a “substantial impairment of the right to vote” guaranteed by the state Constitution.

In March, Flanagan issued an injunction temporarily blocking the law, finding that the groups challenging the ID requirement — the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera — were likely to succeed in their arguments. He made that injunction permanent in Tuesday’s 20-page decision.

Another Dane County judge, Richard Niess, permanently blocked the voter ID law in March in a separate case brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. Voter ID proponents would need to get both orders lifted to get the law reinstated.

A spokeswoman for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ( ) that Van Hollen likely will also appeal the latest ruling.

Van Hollen has appealed the ruling in the League of Women Voters case to an appeals court in Madison. That court is not expected to rule until after November, meaning photo IDs will not be required at the polls in the Aug. 14 primary and Nov. 6 election.

The NAACP and Voces brought the lawsuit against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who signed the photo ID law, and the state Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie had no immediate comment.

Under the law approved last year by Republican lawmakers and Walker, voters are required to show one of a set number of photo IDs to vote. It was in place for the February primary but has been blocked by court orders since then.

Voters who do not have a driver’s license or other photo ID can get one without charge from the state. But Flanagan noted that birth certificates are required to get the IDs and voters who don’t have them must pay for them. He said more than 300,000 voters do not have an acceptable form of ID.

“The cost and the difficulty of obtaining documents necessary to apply for a (Division of Motor Vehicles) photo ID is a substantial burden which falls most heavily upon low-income individuals,” he wrote.

Backers say the voter ID measure will help prevent voter fraud, but Flanagan said the law is “unlikely to protect the electoral process.”


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

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