MADISON, Wis. (CN) — Pointing to evidence that Wisconsin is still denying eligible citizens the identification they need to vote in November, as required by an unconstitutional voter-ID law the state must still reform, a federal judge is demanding answers.
U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued the order Friday after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on outrageous audio recordings collected from Departments of Motor Vehicles across the state.
The recordings contradict 273 pages of progress reports the state has filed with Peterson, assuring the judge that DMV staff are fully trained on the protocol for issuing ID.
Wisconsin says every DMV office in the state has been outfitted with signs that say, "Get your ID to vote! No birth certificate, no problem!"
The reforms are court-mandated after Judge Peterson found that Wisconsin's voter-ID law, the Republican-backed Act 23, disenfranchises qualified voters.
In particular, older black citizens born in the South but never issued a birth certificate have found it difficult to get a valid Wisconsin photo ID.
With little time to overhaul the law before the Nov. 8 general election, however, Peterson agreed that the state's existing emergency measures foreclosed the need to immediately redo the ID petition process, or IDPP.
"Pretty much a disaster" was how Peterson described this process, which is meant to ensure that all qualified voters get the necessary ID to avoid being disenfranchised.
In spite of the emergency measures, however, the audio recordings captured three DMV staffers, including a supervisor, sending away one eligible voter without credentials, saying the ID process takes six to eight weeks.
At the time of Peterson's Sept. 30 ruling, Election Day was just over five weeks away.
Peterson gave the state until Oct. 7 to explain itself.
Molly McGrath with the group VoteRiders made the recording with Zack Moore, a Wisconsin resident with myriad identification but no birth certificate readily available.
According to local news reports, the state stands by its claims that voters need only ask to receive ID.
Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesman Johnny Koremenos has not returned an email requesting comment.
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