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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wisconsin Loses Bid to Fast Track Voter ID Cases

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court denied the state's request to immediately hear its appeals of two circuit court rulings invalidating its voter identification law, making it likely that the law will not be in place by the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a petition to bypass the court of appeals and to stay permanent injunctions, which blocked the law this year for violating different provisions of the Wisconsin Constitution.

In his motion to stay permanent injunctions, Van Hollen said, "Without a stay of the injunction, the voter photo ID law will not be in effect to prevent and deter potential voter fraud and to bolster the integrity of and public confidence in the election."

Van Hollen also filed a motion to consolidate the two cases. The court stated that it would not grant the petition to bypass because it was premature as the briefs on appeal had not been filed. The motion to stay permanent injunction and the motion to consolidate were also then dismissed.

One of the cases was brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and is scheduled before the Court of Appeals in Madison. The second case was brought by the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera. The case is scheduled before the Court of Appeals in Waukesha.

On March 6, 2012, Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan - who heard the NAACP/Voces de la Frontera case - ordered the government accountability board and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 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."

On March 12, 2012, Dane County Circuit Judge Judge Richard Niess - who heard the League of Women's Voters case - declared "2011 Wisconsin Act 23's photo ID requirements unconstitutional to the extent they serve as a condition for voting at the polls." The judge also permanently enjoined the defendants "from any further implementation or enforcement of those provisions."

Voces de la Frontera said the injunctions sent "a powerful message that Act 23 has significant and substantial constitutional infirmities, which violate the spirit of voter access and citizen participation in the electoral process in Wisconsin."

The recent decisions are a "a terrific victory for voter rights because it means almost certainly this disenfranchising law will not be in effect for the November election," said Rich Saks, an attorney for two groups that challenged the law, during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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