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Wisconsin AG to ask state Supreme Court to reinstate voter ID law

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen [official website] announced [press release] on Tuesday that he will ask the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] to overturn an injunction barring enforcement of the state's voter identification law [text, PDF] in advance of the November elections. A judge for Wisconsin's Dane County Circuit Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] last month that the state's voter ID law is unconstitutional, issuing a permanent injunction against the law's enforcement. Judge David Flanagan is the second Dane County judge to strike down the law, following a similar ruling [JURIST report] by Judge Richard Neiss in March. Flanagan had issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] shortly before Neiss' ruling. In his order, Flanagan wrote that the law creates "substantial impairment of the right to vote" guaranteed by the state's constitution. Van Hollen said Tuesday that his office would file a request to bypass the court of appeals and have the issue appealed directly to the state supreme court. A separate request will also be filed to stay temporarily the injunctions issued by the lower courts, allowing the law to go into effect for the upcoming election.

There are now more than 30 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including 17 states that have passed laws that require a photo ID. Last month, the Brennan Center for Justice [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] describing the burden on Americans who must obtain government-issued photo ID to comply with restrictive state voter ID laws. The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification [report, PDF; press release] is the first comprehensive assessment of the difficulties that eligible voters face in obtaining free photo ID in order to vote. Last week a judge for the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court declined to issue an injunction [JURIST report] to prevent the state's voter ID law [HB 943 materials] from taking effect. The judge found that the law is "a reasonable, non-discriminatory, non-severe burden when viewed in the widespread use of photo ID in daily life."

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