A federal judge signaled on Wednesday that he’s likely to leave Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement in place, despite concerns about what the state has done to get information out to individuals who may face difficulties obtaining a qualifying ID.
Following a day-long hearing in Madison, U.S. District Judge James Peterson said it’s clear that state officials have not done enough to educate residents about how to obtain a photo ID for voting if they are missing key documents. The requirement was part of an order he issued in July, which said the state must provide a clear process for making sure voters who may face trouble getting an ID – because of issues such as spelling error on a birth certificate or because documents are unavailable without paying for them – can get the credentials needed to vote.
An investigation done by a voting rights advocate found that wasn’t happening though, with staff in multiple DMV service centers giving out wrong or incomplete information about how the process works. The judge put part of the blame for those issues on DMV staff receiving training that was “manifestly inadequate.”
Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now has called for the judge to block the voter ID requirement ahead of the November election because of those concerns. However, Peterson said Wednesday that he has doubts about whether he has the authority to actually do that. Instead, he wants state officials to work out a plan for making sure DMV staff are properly trained and to launch a “public blitz” of information about how the process works.
A hearing in the case is expected to continue Thursday morning.