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Wisconsin judge to rule next week on voter ID law injunction

A Wisconsin circuit court judge will rule on Monday whether to issue a permanent injunction to block Wisconsin's voter identification law, Wisconsin Act 23 [text, PDF]. Dane County Circuit Court [official website] Judge Richard Niess's ruling will come on the heels of another judge's issuance of a temporary injunction [JURIST report] of Wisconsin's voter identification law last Tuesday in the same court. On Tuesday, Judge David Flanagan blocked enforcement of the law, saying that it was more restrictive than voter identification laws that have been upheld in other states. Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Carrie Benedon defended the state's voter identification law [Wisconsin State Journal report], saying that the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud. Lester Pines, an attorney challenging the voter identification law, stated that regardless of Judge Niess's decision on Monday, Wisconsin appellate courts will have the final say in the matter.

Wisconsin's voter ID law has been subject to numerous legal challenges. 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 booths. 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.

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