A judge in the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] on Tuesday issued an injunction temporarily blocking enforcement [order, PDF] of the state's controversial new voter identification law, Wisconsin Act 23 [text, PDF]. The injunction was issued by Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan who said that the Wisconsin law was more restrictive than similar laws that have been upheld in other states. The new law requires all voters to present a form of photo identification at the polls. The suit was filed in December by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who argue that voter fraud is not widespread and that Wisconsin's law may disenfranchise minority voters. An appeal of the decision is expected. Additionally, Ben Sparks, the Communications Director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin [official website], has called for an investigation [press release] into Judge Flanagan's involvement in the case, alleging that Flanagan is biased because he signed a petition to recall Governor Scott Walker [official website].
This is one of four challenges to Wisconsin's voter ID law. In December, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty [advocacy websites] filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the Wisconsin law. Lawsuits have also been filed by the Advancement Project and the League of Women Voters [JURIST reports]. There are now 31 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including 15 states that require photo ID, but the issue remains controversial. In August South Carolina's Senate Minority Caucus filed an objection [JURIST report] with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], asking it to reject the state's new voter identification law. In June Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed [JURIST report] a law requiring persons to present photo identification at voting booth. Last March the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law requiring voters to present one of six government-issued photo identifications in order to vote. In contrast, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration in October 2010.