A panel of three federal appeals court judges in Chicago will hear arguments on whether to reinstate Wisconsin’s voter ID law on Friday, less than eight weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 approved the law, which requires voters to show poll workers certain types of photo identification to vote. Litigation immediately followed, and judges at the state and federal level halted the law. The requirement was in effect for just one election, a low-turnout primary in February 2012. Two cases were brought in federal court, and U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee heard them together. This April, he ruled the voter ID law placed an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. He also determined it violated the federal Voting Rights Act because minorities are less likely than whites to have IDs for voting. Adelman found some 300,000 people in Wisconsin do not have IDs and wrote the voter ID law would “prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes.” He ruled there was no rational basis for the law because voter impersonation — the only kind of fraud the voter ID law would curb — is nonexistent or virtually nonexistent. Supporters of voter ID disagree with that sentiment, saying voter fraud is difficult to detect and requiring IDs gives the public more confidence in election results.
Walker, who is being represented by GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, appealed. Van Hollen has asked the court to reinstate the law soon after the oral arguments so the voter ID requirement can be in place for this fall’s election, when Walker faces Democrat Mary Burke. Van Hollen is not seeking a third term this November. “Voter ID is a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our elections,” Walker said in a statement this summer. “People need to have confidence in our electoral process and to know their vote has been properly counted.”
The lawsuits were brought by an array of groups and individuals, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Cross Lutheran Church, labor unions and the Wisconsin chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. They are being represented in court by the ACLU and the Advancement Project, a civil rights group. “These are politicians trying to manipulate the political process for their own gain,” said Katherine Culliton-González, an attorney with the Advancement Project. “It’s un-American and that’s why we’re litigating this.”
Full Article: Federal appeals judges to hear Wisconsin voter ID arguments.