Two days before appearing in front of a panel of federal appeals judges over the state’s halted voter identification law, Wisconsin officials on Wednesday announced a new process for giving free photo IDs to people who don’t have birth certificates. The system was set up in response to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in July that said the state could not require people to produce documents that require government fees for the purpose of voting. The new plan for issuing IDs is to debut Monday, but under it those who do not have birth certificates or other key documents will not receive IDs right away. That could mean people who try to get IDs just before an election wouldn’t get them quickly enough to allow them to vote — a provision that could open a new line of litigation. Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 approved the law requiring people to show photo ID to vote. Four lawsuits immediately followed, two in state court and two in federal court. The law was in effect for a February 2012 primary, but was then blocked by a series of court orders. The state Supreme Court in July upheld the voter ID law in the two state cases, one decided 5-2 and one 4-3.
The decisions did not allow the voter ID law to go into effect because U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled in the other two cases in April that the voter ID law violated the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act.
Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen have appealed those decisions and arguments will be heard Friday before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. The state officials have asked the court to put the voter ID law in place for the Nov. 4 election, when Walker faces Democrat Mary Burke.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court made a key change to how IDs would be issued if the federal court reinstates the voter ID law. People have been able to get voter IDs for free, but have had to show birth certificates or other documents to get them. The Wisconsin Supreme Court said people can’t be forced to produce documents that require government fees to vote and rewrote a state rule to allow an exception to that requirement.
Full Article: State plans to issue free photo IDs to some voters.