Voter ID Law Struck Down for Second Time
Voters will not have to show a photo ID when they head to the polls on April 3, but they will still have to have certain residency requirements.
After ruling last week that a lawsuit from the League of Women Voters could move forward, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess Monday issued a permanent injunction blocking implementation of the state's new Voter ID law.
This is the second time the controversial law has been struck down in less than a week. Just a few days ago, Judge David Flanagan issued a temporary stop in answer to lawsuits filed by the Milwaukee NAACP and Voces de la Frontera, and at least two other groups.
While that ruling took away the requirement to show a photo ID, other measures remained in place, such as requiring voters to sign a poll book and to live in the same district where they will cast their ballot for 28 consecutive days.
Reid Magney, spokesman for the state Government Accountability Board, said the agency doesn't have any comment about the judge's ruling. After Flanagan's decision last week, the agency, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, issued a short document to help quell the confusion among municipal and county clerks.
Cullen Werwie, a spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker, said activist judges are interfering with common sense. When Walker signed Voter ID into law last fall, he called it, "common sense reform."
"It’s a shame activist Dane County judges continue to stand in the way of common sense," said Werwie. "We are confident the state will prevail in its plan to implement photo ID."State Democrats are pleased with Niess' decision, saying it was just a matter of time.
"We already knew that Scott Walker's efforts to suppress voting in Wisconsin offended our state's norms and traditions. Now, for the second time, a judge has ruled that it offends Wisconsin's Constitution," party Chairman Mike Tate said in a written statement.
Voters did show a photo ID during the Feb. 21 primary election and were poised to do so again for the April 3 general election, which includes the presidential primary. Now, Niess' ruling means the requirement will no longer be in place.
Still the state Republican Party is confident the law will pass muster in the end.
"We are confident that Wisconsin's current Voter ID law will be upheld during all 2012 elections," said Ben Sparks, the party's communications director.
On Friday, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the court to stay Flanagan's injunction, saying the back-and-forth will confuse voters. After Niess' decision, he issued a statement saying the state Department of Justice will file an appeal.
“Wisconsin’s voter ID law is consistent with the constitution, and I will appeal this decision,” he said.
There was a trial scheduled to determine whether or not a permanent stay would go into effect, but Niess' Monday ruling pre-empted the trial.
Tate certainly expects motions to be filed, but said the injunction gives state residents time to think about whether they want their freedoms curtailed.
"We fully anticipate today's ruling to be challenged," he also wrote. "But today, the second time a judge has ruled against this heinous law, provides Wisconsin a moment to reflect on just what was given away by Scott Walker's Tea Party Republicans when, instead of focusing on the issues facing our public, they rushed instead to limit their freedoms."