Paring back the state’s voter ID law four months before the presidential election, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Wisconsin voters without photo identification can cast ballots by swearing to their identity. The decision by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee creates a pathway for voters with difficulties getting IDs who have been unable to cast ballots under the state’s 2011 voter ID law. “Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort,” Adelman wrote in his 44-page decision. The judge issued his preliminary order because he found that those arguing for a pathway for some voter without IDs were “very likely” to succeed.
The ruling will allow voters to use affidavits instead of IDs to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election. But this new system will not be in place for the Aug. 9 primary for congressional and state legislative races because Adelman determined election officials needed more time to implement it.
Adelman, a former Democratic state senator, was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton.
Sean Young, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represented those bringing the legal challenge, praised the decision. “Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been a mistake from day one. This ruling is a strong rebuke of the state’s efforts to limit access to the ballot box. It means that a fail-safe will be in place in November for voters who have had difficulty obtaining ID,” said Young.