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Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds State's Voter ID Law

Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:09 AM

A Wisconsin law requiring prospective voters to present a government-issued photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot is valid under the U.S. constitution, the state’s Supreme Court said.

Today’s 4-3 decision upholds a measure signed into law three years ago by Republican Governor Scott Walker, who called it “common sense reform” intended to protect the integrity of elections in Wisconsin. Opponents claim the measures are intended to suppress the votes of lower-income people and the elderly, who may be more inclined to vote for Democrats.

The appeals court found “there was no evidence of ‘recent’ voter impersonation fraud in Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Drake Roggensack wrote for the majority. “That finding cannot overcome the state’s interest in preventing voter fraud.”

Voters who fear the legitimate ballots will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised,’’ Drake Roggensack said.

“Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government,” the judge wrote.

The state’s primary election is scheduled for Aug. 12. General elections will be held Nov. 4.

Thirty-four U.S. states have some form of voter identification laws, 16 of them require a photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

Strict Measures

Eight of of those states have so-called strict photo ID measures requiring people who don’t present the requisite proof to cast only a provisional ballot which won’t be counted unless the voter produces the ID at an election office within a specified time period.

The high court ruling resolves separate cases filed by the League of Women Voters and the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP. The seven member panel heard argument on Feb. 25 in Madison, the state capital. “The Legislature can establish how, when and where voting occurs,” said Lester Pines, a lawyer for the League of Women Voters. “But it cannot legislate who can vote.” That must be done by a constitutional amendment passed in two successive sessions of the Legislature and then approved by voters, he told the court.

Clayton Kawski, an assistant state attorney general, argued then that demanding a photo ID is reasonable and doesn’t impede legitimate voters from exercising their rights.

“The law is not a voting qualification,” Kawski said. “It is not forbidden by the constitution.”

In a separate federal court-filed case, a U.S. judge in Milwaukee on April 29 found the measure illegally burdens the ability of minority citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The state is appealing that decision.


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The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a state law on Thursday requiring voters to have identification to cast a ballot, according to court documents.However, the 2012 law is not in effect as a federal judge ruled the measure unconstitutional in April. Wisconsin Attorney...
voter, id, law, wisconsin
Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:09 AM
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