MADISON, Wis. (CN) – Calling voter fraud and voter suppression “two heads of the same monster,” a state judge permanently barred Wisconsin from enforcing its photo ID voting act at the polls.
The League of Women Voters sued Gov. Scott Walker in Dane County Court, challenging Act 23, which prohibits people from voting unless they can show specified forms of state-approved, photo IDs.
Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess on Monday permanently enjoined enforcement of Act 23.
Niess concluded his 8-page order: “Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government. 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 of the same monster.
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. It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution. See State ex rel. Frederick v. Zimmerman, supra. This is precisely what 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 does with its photo ID mandates.
“Judgment is rendered declaring 2011 Wisconsin Act 23’s photo ID requirements unconstitutional to the extent they serve as a condition for voting at the polls. Moreover, defendants are permanently enjoined forthwith from any further implementation of enforcement of those provisions.
“To be clear, this court does not hold that photo ID requirements under all circumstances and in all forms are unconstitutional per se. Rather, the holding is simply that the disqualification of qualified electors from casing votes in any election where they do not timely produce photo ID’s satisfying Act 23’s requirements violates Article III, Sections 1 and 2 the Wisconsin Constitution.
“This order is final for purposes of appeal.”