Judge Delays Start of New Voter ID Law

A Dane County judge issued a temporary injunction requiring the state to delay implementation of new rules regarding voter identification on Tuesday.  The judge, calling 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law in the United States,” has ordered the state to stop implementing the law pending a full trial, which is set for 16 April 2012.  This injunction effectively prevents Act 23 from being fully implemented for the 3 April Wisconsin presidential primary.

The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed last year by the Milwaukee NAACP and Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group based in Racine and Milwaukee.  Circuit Judge David Flanagan ordered the state to “cease immediately any effort to enforce or implement the photo identification requirements of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, pending trial of this case and further order of the court.”

In a statement, Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said the GAB would cooperate with local election officials and consult with the Attorney General’s office concerning the changes to implementation.

Kennedy noted that, while the voter ID portion of Act 23 will not be implemented, “Other key provisions of Act 23 remain in effect: the requirement for 28 consecutive days of residency to vote, the requirement for voters to sign the poll list, and the end of corroboration for voters who do not have proof of residence.”

At a news conference Tuesday, NAACP attorney Richard Saks called the injunction “a solid victory for voting rights” and “a win for the hundreds of thousands who have difficulty or find it impossible to get voter ID under Act. 23,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin emphasized that Judge Flanagan had signed the petition to recall Governor Walker.  RPW Communications Director Ben Sparks said that Flanagan’s decision to sign the petition called the court proceedings into question.

“[T]he Republican Party of Wisconsin will be filing a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission to investigate this matter further,” Sparks said via a statement on the RPW website.  He also noted that “today’s decision throws yet another curve ball at local clerks and election officials who have spent the time and money necessary to ensure that this common sense law is implemented on time.”

The new voter ID law has prompted considerable debate over the real and perceived costs to voting in Wisconsin and the degree to which laws should seek to eliminate voter fraud, despite the risk of discouraging legal voters.  The University of Wisconsin system has sought to comply with the new law by issuing free voter ID cards.

Judge grants temporary injunction barring enforcement of voter ID law in April electionWisconsin State Journal

Judge bars voter ID law temporarilyThe Associated Press and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Order Granting Motion for Temporary Injunction – Judge David Flanagan

2011 Wisconsin Act 23

Voter ID Law – University of Wisconsin System

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