Wisconsin Fights Voter ID Injunction in 7th Circuit

     MADISON, Wis. (CN) — Wisconsin already has leave to delay meaningful overhaul of its unconstitutional voter-identification scheme until after the election, but the state still wants the Seventh Circuit to grant an emergency stay.
     “Forcing the state to put its entirely reasonable, commonplace election-administration rules on hold will waste the time and resources of the state’s election officials and county clerks’ offices, requiring a revamping of their election publications, official forms, website notices, training materials, polling schedules, and more,” the 20-page filing by Wisconsin Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin says.
     Tseytlin moved the federal appeals court for an emergency stay on Aug. 12, just one day after U.S. District Judge James Peterson substantially denied the state’s request to stay his injunction.
     In striking down Act 23, Wisconsin’s 2011 photo ID law, late last month, Peterson blasted Republican leaders for targeting black voters in Milwaukee with no legitimate purpose.
     One Wisconsin Now headed up the underlying challenge, taking up the mantle for older black citizens born in the South who were never issued a birth certificate and have been unable to get a valid Wisconsin photo ID.
     Wisconsin said its ID petition process, or IDPP, ensured that all qualified voters could get the necessary ID to avoid being disenfranchised, but Peterson called this process “pretty much a disaster.”
     Despite its failings, however, Peterson said the state need not overhaul IDPP until after the Nov. 8 election. He said emergency measures that Wisconsin already has in place “will allow anyone who enters the IDPP to get a receipt that will serve as a valid ID for the November 2016 election.”
     Tseytlin’s argues that Peterson’s decision overturns seven election laws, including standard voting regulations used in many states, and requires implementation within weeks.
     A mailing deadline for absentee ballots is fast approaching on Aug. 31, but the Seventh Circuit has not released a decision on Wisconsin’s motion as of press time.
     Just last week, three Republican-appointed judges on the Seventh Circuit blocked relief in a separate Wisconsin voter ID case.
     Ruthelle Frank is the lead plaintiff in this case, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
     Late last month, Democrat-appointed U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that eligible voters like Frank who are unable to obtain Act 23-qualifying ID should be given ballots if they execute an affidavit — meaning they need only sign a declaration at the polls confirming that they are who they say they are.
     The Seventh Circuit granted Wisconsin a stay in this case on Aug. 10, saying Adelman’s decision “is likely to be reversed on appeal and that disruption of the state’s electoral system in the interim will cause irreparable injury.”
     Adelman first enjoined Act 23 back years ago, but a 2014 reversal by the Seventh Circuit ensured that Wisconsin’s voter ID law was in effect during the state’s April primary election.
     Last week’s stay order says Adelman still “has not attempted to distinguish genuine difficulties of the kind our opinion mentioned, or any other variety of substantial obstacle to voting, from any given voter’s unwillingness to make the effort that the Supreme Court has held that a state can require.”
     Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement that he was pleased with the court’s decision.
     The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the en banc Seventh Circuit to vacate the panel’s stay.
     The voter ID law’s status has been in constant flux for the past several weeks and, based on the latest opinions and orders, is likely to change again before voters head to the polls in November.

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