A second Wisconsin state court judge has blocked a voter identification law signed by Governor Scott Walker last year.
The law unconstitutionally burdens the rights of otherwise eligible voters, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess in Madison said today in an 11-page ruling 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,” such as voter identification, Niess said.
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 state and federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the measure.
“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 sitting in Madison, the state capital, last week issued an order temporarily barring enforcement of the law after finding it may place an improper burden on voters.
Niess on March 9 heard argument from attorneys for the League of Women Voters and for the state, which defended the measure as a hedge against voter fraud. State statutes are presumed to be constitutional, Assistant Attorney General Carrie Benedon told Niess then.
“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.”
Werwie likened the measure to requirements to obtain cold medicine, public assistance and a public library card.
Susan Crawford, who argued the issue for the league, today called the court’s ruling “well-reasoned” and said the organization was “confident it will hold up on appeal.”
The case is League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker, 11-cv-4669, Dane County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court (Madison).
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.