A state appeals court on Thursday overturned a Dane County judge’s decision that found Wisconsin’s voter ID law violated the state constitution, but the ID requirement remains blocked because of a ruling in a separate case. The 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison unanimously ruled the voter ID law did not violate a provision of the state constitution that limits what restrictions the Legislature can impose on who can vote. The case was brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. The group’s attorney, Lester Pines, said the league would decide over the next couple of weeks whether to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. “Voter ID is not the law in Wisconsin and is unlikely to be the law in Wisconsin” because of a raft of litigation, Pines said. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, in a written statement acknowledged the other outstanding legal actions.
“While today’s decision is an important step toward full vindication of the law, we recognize that other challenges are still pending that address different issues,” his statement said. “We will continue to defend the law and look forward to favorable decisions in those other cases as well.”
Attention now turns to the District 2 Court of Appeals in Waukesha, which is considering an appeal to a Dane County Circuit Court decision that found the voter ID law violated a different clause of the state constitution. Two federal lawsuits are also pending, but those cases are on hold while the state cases move through the court system.
Backers of the voter ID law say it will help prevent voter fraud and raise confidence in voting. Critics say the law amounts to voter suppression by making it more difficult for students, the poor, the elderly and minorities to vote.
Critics further charge that there are no documented cases of significant voter fraud that could be prevented by the law. Supporters say voter fraud is difficult to prove and note the voter ID law didn’t produce major problems in the one election last year where it was in effect.