Wisconsin Voter ID Law Struck Down by Federal Court

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 29 2014 4:43 PM

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Struck Down by Federal Court

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A federal judge strikes down Wisconsin voter ID law which mandated voters have a state-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.

Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law on Tuesday declaring the provision violates the Voting Rights Act and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The state’s requirement that voters must have a state-issued photo ID was ruled to impose an unfair burden on low-income and minority voters.

Republican supporters of the law said it would help boost public confidence in the electoral process by cutting down on voter fraud. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, however, ruled that the law was designed to fix a problem that didn’t exist while creating new barriers to voters writing that the law will “prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

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Here’s more on the decision from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In Tuesday's decision, [U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman] in Milwaukee found the state didn't have an appropriate rationale for imposing a voter ID requirement. In-person voter impersonation — the only type of fraud a voter ID law can prevent — is nonexistent or virtually nonexistent in Wisconsin, he wrote. "Because virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future, this particular state interest has very little weight," he wrote. "The defendants could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past.”

The law, known as Act 23, had already been blocked by a state judge and the decision by the federal court to invalidate the ID requirement means it is unlikely to be in place for elections held this fall, the Associated Press reports. Republican Governor Scott Walker is up for reelection in November. Wisconsin’s Attorney General plans to appeal the ruling, according to the Journal Sentinel. The court’s decision in Wisconsin could be precedent setting in other states, the AP reports, as 31 states have some form of voter ID requirements on the books.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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