December 20, 2014

Supreme Court asked again to take up Voter ID cases

Wisconsin’s attorney general is making another attempt to have the State Supreme Court take over a pair of cases challenging a state law that requires voters to show a government issued photo ID at the polls.

Republican J.B. Van Hollen was hoping the court would restore the ID mandate for this week’s elections, but the appellate courts have spent months reviewing decisions in lawsuits from two Dane County judges. Those rulings struck down the requirement and appellate judges have yet to make a decision in either case.

In September, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Van Hollen to take up the cases and combine them into a singled lawsuit. At the time, the court said it could not make a joint decision on both cases because appellate briefs had not been filed in one of them. Van Hollen said those papers were turned in this week, which should allow the justices to act now.

It’s the third time the state has tried to speed up a review of the lawsuits, which were filed by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of black and Hispanic groups in Milwaukee. In both cases, Madison judges ruled that the photo ID requirement was unconstitutional because it discourages voting by those who lack the proper ID. Van Hollen argues people can get free IDs under the law, and he believes it’s a constitutional way to fight voter fraud.

Majority Republicans in the Legislature passed the photo ID mandate last year. It’s only been used once; during the local primaries in February.