Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Calls Ruling 'Disappointing'

Photo: State of Wisconsin.

A federal court has struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote that the law would “deter a substantial number of eligible voters from casting a ballot.” He also wrote that “the conclusion that blacks and Latinos disproportionately lack IDs is inescapable.” Adelman also addressed one of the main justifications of voter ID laws, writing that “the evidence introduced by the plaintiffs confirms that voter-impersonation fraud does not occur in Wisconsin.”

Gov. Walker and Republican leaders had indicated in recent weeks that they were prepared to call the legislature back into special session to change the voter ID law should a federal court or the state Supreme Court find it unconstitutional. Adelman addressed that possibility in his ruling, saying that if the legislature acts and an election is imminent, he would expedite any motions to overturn his injunction. However, Adelman said that it was “difficult to see how an amendment to the photo ID requirement could remove its disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result.”

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State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement saying he was disappointed by the ruling and that he planned to appeal.

The state Supreme Court has yet to issue a decision involving separate cases in state court.

Wisconsin’s voter ID law was only in place for one low-turnout election in 2012 before it was blocked by courts. It’s been held up by lawsuits ever since.