Wisconsin Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional

A Wisconsin judge has suspended the state's voter ID law, saying it was "the single most restrictive voter eligibility law" in the country and finding that it violated the state's Constitution that explicitly gave the right to vote to all residents who are 18 years old or older.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan cited studies finding that there were more than 200,000 Wisconsin residents who lacked a state-issued photo ID but were otherwise eligible to vote. That figure does not include former felons or non-citizens resident in the state.

Flanagan said the state's new voter ID law required people who lacked government photo ID to spend money to acquire the necessary documents -- such as birth certificates. He called that "a real cost that is imposed on constitutionally eligible voters," adding that was especially "burdensome" for the elderly and disabled. 

He said the ID requirement fell disproportionately on elderly people, people of color and poor people, and said claims that the voting process needed to be policed to prevent voter impersonation -- or fraudulent voting -- were overblown and "extremely unlikely."

As such, he said the law was overreaching and inflexible and, in light of the state Constitution's explicit creation of voting rights, unconstitutional.

The voter ID law was proposed and shepherded through the Legislature by the body's Republican leadership. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen aid the state would likely appeal.  

What is perhaps most notable in the ruling--which means the voter ID law will not be effect for the state's upcoming presidential primary and local elections on April 3, is that Judge Flanagan focused on the eligibility criteria for voters, not whether they happen to have a particular form of photo ID.

Nowhere in the state's Constitution does it require eligible voters to present a state-issued photo ID--a fact voter ID supporters like to omit. 

AlterNet / By Steven Rosenfeld | Sourced from

Posted at March 6, 2012, 12:09pm

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