Wisconsin Judge Rules Voter ID Law Unconstitutional, Issues Temporary Injunction


If 2011 was “The Year of Voter ID,” then 2012 is shaping up to be “The Year of Voter ID Challenges.” In addition to the Department of Justice’s decision in December to deny preclearance to a voter ID law in South Carolina – a requirement under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, under which the state still qualifies – Wisconsin Circuit Judge David Flanagan issued a temporary injunction this week against his state’s new voter ID law. The order bars Governor Scott Walker and the Government Accountability Board from enforcing or implementing the law until a second trial in mid-April can be held to consider a permanent injunction.

Calling the impact of voter ID “extremely broad and largely needless,” Judge Flanagan found the law in violation of Wisconsin’s Constitution. He stated:

[The voter ID law] is addressed to a problem which is very limited, if indeed extant. Seemingly it fails to account for the difficulty its demands impose upon indigent, elderly and disabled citizens who are qualified under the constitution to vote. It offers no flexibility, no alternative to prevent…exclusion of a constitutionally qualified voter. By contrast, the sweep and impact of the law is very broad. Given the sacred, fundamental interest in issue, it is very clear that [the voter ID law]…has not been sufficiently focused to avoid needless and significant impairment of the right to vote.

Without an injunction, continued Judge Flanagan, “irreparable harm is likely to occur,” as well as “a clearly improper impairment of a most vital element of our society.”

The injunction allows voters to participate in the April 3 presidential primary and local general elections without having to present a photo ID at their polling place.

The lawsuit prompting the injunction was filed by the NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and Voces de la Frontera. A second lawsuit spearheaded by The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which challenges the voter ID law based on the state constitution’s equal protection clause, is scheduled to be heard this Friday.


Full Resources from this Article

Wisconsin Judge Rules Voter ID Law Unconstitutional, Issues Temporary Injunction

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel - Judge bars voter ID law temporarily
Wisconsin State Journal - Judge grants temporary injunction barring enforcement of voter ID law in April 

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