With a statewide election coming up in just a few weeks, the state’s top election official says immediate appeals of court injunctions blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID requirement could cause too much confusion. The injunctions were issued by two Dane County judges who, in rulings tied to separate lawsuits, found there is enough evidence to show the Voter ID law approved by lawmakers last year could be unconstitutional.
The Department of Justice has appealed both decisions, although state Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy says they advised the Attorney General that a quick reversal could cause problems during next month’s election. Kennedy says it would be better if nothing changed between now and April 3rd, when local elections and the state’s presidential primary are scheduled to take place.
Kennedy says overturning the decision too close to the election could put the public and the clerks in a “yo-yo type position.”
As for why the Attorney General pursued an appeal right away, Kennedy says his agency’s role is only to advise and administer the law. He says the DOJ has an interest in defending the law as it was passed by the Legislature.
The GAB has already spent a great deal of effort and resources in recent months on public awareness campaigns to spread the word about Voter ID. Those are on hold because of the injunction, although Kennedy says they have not stopped working with clerks. He says it’s far easier to have them trained and ready on Election Day, than it would be to quickly make up for lost time if the injunctions are reversed.
The Department of Justice has asked both judges to stay their injunctions pending an appeal, a request one judge has already denied. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen argues blocking the law from taking effect could create too much uncertainty and harm electors, as they expect the ruling will be overturned on appeal.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:09)