Voting rights advocates have won a round in Wisconsin against a voter ID law that a Dane County judge blocked temporarily:
Wisconsin voters will not need to show ID to vote in the April 3 primary and local general election, thanks to a Dane County judge who granted a temporary injunction against the new law today.
Circuit Judge David Flanagan called the voter ID measure “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the nation, according to the Associated Press.
“The NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera sued over the law last year. A trial on whether to grant a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 16,” AP reports.
The judge ruled the plaintiffs met the requirements for a temporary injunction. Flanagan granted it, blocking its use in the April elections, because he believed that the plaintiffs largely proved their case. He said that “The scope of the impairment has been shown to be serious, extremely broad and largely needless,” and that the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera “have shown a very substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” The full order can be found here.
The plaintiffs argued that more than 220,000 voters would be unable to prove their eligibility at the polls under the new law. Most of those would be disadvantaged people, minorities and the elderly.
The state plans to appeal the ruling. And we all remember the perfidy of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, home to David Prosser and a backstop for many of Scott Walker’s conservative policies. However, there’s an additional lawsuit, a federal case put forward by the League of Women voters, arguing that the voter ID law in Wisconsin violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. The Supreme Court has already found Indiana’s voter ID law constitutional, but Wisconsin’s definitely goes further. That case is proceeding on a parallel track. In total, Brad Friedman reports, there are four concurrent lawsuits against the Wisconsin law.
Late last year the ACLU filed a 54-page federal class action complaint on behalf of some 17 named plaintiffs, including elderly, student, minority and even veteran voters, all of whom may otherwise be unable to cast their once-legal vote under the state’s new law passed by its GOP legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011.
The lead plaintiff in that case, 86-year old Ruthelle Frank, is disabled and was born at home. She never had a birth certificate. Though she’s been legally voting in every election since 1948 and is an elected member of the Brokaw Village Board, she may have to pay more than $200 in order to have a birth certificate created and typos in her name, as recorded by the state registrar, corrected before she can receive the “free” state-issued Photo ID that would allow her to vote under the new law [...]
In a small primary in the state late last month, the first full implementation of the statute, a number of voters were reportedly denied their right to vote — at polling places where they had legally voted for years prior — after they were unable to present Photo ID which met the state’s new draconian restrictions. For now, at least for the upcoming April primary in Wisconsin, those restrictions will mercifully be on hold.
To be continued. We’ll see if the legal wrangling prevents this law from becoming operative during the recall elections.
UPDATE: In a related story, in Tennessee yesterday, former Democratic Congressman Lincoln Davis was denied the right to vote because he was mysteriously “taken off” the voter rolls.