A second judge rules against voter ID law in Wisconsin

  • Article by: ANDREW HARRIS and MARIE
  • R OHDE
  • March 12, 2012 - 8:26 PM

A Wisconsin voter identification law signed by Gov. Scott Walker last year has been blocked by a second state court judge.

The law unconstitutionally burdens the rights of otherwise eligible voters, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess ruled Monday in Madison, barring enforcement of the measure.

"The government may not disqualify an elector who possesses these qualifications on the grounds that the voter does not satisfy additional statutorily created qualifications," Niess said, referring to the voter identification requirement.

Signed by Walker in May, the legislation requires Wisconsin voters to present a government-issued photographic proof of identity such as a state driver's license, a U.S. passport or an armed forces or college ID. At least four lawsuits challenging the measure have been filed in state and federal court.

"Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression," Niess said. "Indeed they are two heads on the same monster."

David Flanagan, another judge in Madison, last week issued an order temporarily barring enforcement of the law after finding it may place an improper burden on voters.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who had said he would appeal Flanagan's order, said Monday that he would seek the reversal of Niess' ruling, too.

"Wisconsin's voter ID law is consistent with the Constitution, and I will appeal this decision," he said in an e- mailed statement.

"It's a shame activist Dane County judges continue to stand in the way of common sense," said Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Walker, a Republican. "We are confident the state will prevail in its plan to implement photo ID."

In Minnesota, a constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for voting is moving through the Legislature. DFLers have suggested an alternative that would include having access to the Division of Vehicle Services database available at all polling places.

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