A federal judge says it’s clear the state was not complying with his order to help all Wisconsin residents obtain a photo ID for voting. However, Judge James Peterson says he’s not sure whether he has the authority at this point to halt the state’s Voter ID requirement at this time.
Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now is calling for the law to be put on hold, following reports that DMV staff gave out wrong or incomplete information to those seeking a photo ID without key documents, such as a birth certificate. Peterson is holding a hearing on the request today in Madison.
Before hearing from witnesses, Peterson told attorneys that he has concerns there is a real failure on the part of the state to communicate what residents must do to get an ID if they are lacking important documents. He also cited concern that DMV staff had received “manifestly inadequate” training on how to handle the issue.
The state released its own investigation into reports that a member of VoteRiders, a non-profit group that works to educate and assist voters in navigating ID laws, was given incorrect information about the process for obtaining a photo ID by staff at multiple DMV service centers. The Department of Justice argued in a court filing Friday that the state is doing enough to address those problems, through additional training for staff and information for voters, and that the law should remain in effect.
However, Peterson noted that the state has shown a “disturbing pattern,” in which the DMV only seems to respond to litigation and does not proactively expect problems that should be easy to predict.