Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin voter ID law

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that Wisconsin's Act 23 [text, PDF], which requires residents to present photo identification to vote, violates the Voting Rights Act and the US Constitution. US District Judge Lynn Adelman found that the requirement violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder], which prohibits states from imposing or applying "any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure" that "results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color" In addition, the judge found the law was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment [text] by placing an unjustified burden on voters in the state. The state argued before the court that Act 23 will deter or prevent voter fraud by making it "harder to impersonate a voter and cast a ballot in his or her name without detection." Adelman rejected this claim, stating "because virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future, this particular state interest has very little weight. State Attorney General JB Van Hollen [official website], who defended the law, has pledged [MWJS report] to take the case to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website].

Debate over voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] has sparked continuing controversy in the US. On Monday the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld its earlier decision striking down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania's voter ID law. Last week a judge for the Pulaski County Circuit Court for the 6th Division [official website] struck down [JURIST report] an Arkansas voter ID law, finding that it violates the state constitution.

 

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