For the second time since its passage, a Dane County judge has ruled a law requiring Wisconsin voters to show a photo ID at the polls is unconstitutional. Dane County Judge David Flanagan issued the ruling late Tuesday, saying the law “has been shown to be a an unreasonable impairment on the Constitutional right to vote.”
The lawsuit was brought by the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera and the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, which claim the requirement puts an undue burden on those who want to vote but lack a photo ID.
The law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year and signed by Governor Scott Walker requires voters to show one of a set list of government-issued photo identification cards when voting. Backers of the bill say the measure is needed to prevent voter fraud, although opponents have argued there’s no evidence to back up those claims. In his ruling, Judge Flanagan noted that “efforts to investigate vote fraud have found nothing that Act 23 would have prevented.”
Expert witnesses testified during a trial earlier this year that as many as 300,000 voters lack the proper identification and could be disenfranchised because of the law.
The decision puts in place a permanent injunction blocking enforcement of the law. Such an injunction is already in effect from a second lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters. That case is currently awaiting a decision from a state Appellate Court.
A spokesperson with the state Department of Justice says the attorney general is likely to consider an appeal of the Flanagan ruling as well, although a final decision will not be made until they have fully reviewed the order.
With both injunctions in place, it remains unlikely that voters will have to show a photo ID at the polls in the upcoming U.S. Senate primary in August or for the Presidential election in November.