We may be months away from Election Day, but in states fighting legal battles over newly minted voter-ID laws, time is short. These laws, which require residents to show government-issued identification to vote, have been shown to disenfranchise poor and minority voters in the first place. But as I’ve written before, the timeframe for implementing them poses another major problem; just look at Pennsylvania, where volunteers and activists are rushing to inform residents about a voter-ID law passed in March. The fact is, comprehensive voter-education efforts can hardly be conducted in two months. It is this basic issue—whether there is enough time to properly implement voter-ID laws before November 6—that has kept voter-ID from going into effect in many states.
But in Wisconsin, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is hoping there’s still time for one last full-court press to rescue the state’s strict voter-ID law. State courts in two different cases—one brought by the League of Women Voters, the other by the Milwaukee NAACP—have already ruled that it violated the state constitution. Normally, at this point the attorney general would file an appeal to the state Court of Appeals, which kicks off a lengthy process. Then, only after the appeals court had made its ruling would the case go to the state Supreme Court (assuming one side wanted to take the case further). Given that currently there are two separate challenges to the law, that would likely happen twice. In short, there’s almost no way the state could fully and fairly implement the law by Election Day.
But Van Hollen has nonetheless asked the state Supreme Court to bypass the Court of Appeals and take the case directly. He also wants two different cases against the voter-ID law consolidated so that things can move more quickly. Finally, while court proceedings continue, the attorney general wants the Supreme Court to suspend the rulings from the lower courts and allow the law to go into effect immediately. Why? It’s all “in a determined effort to ensure the law will be in place for the November 6, 2012, general election.” Van Hollen has asked the state Supreme Court to fast-track the cases before, when they were still being heard in the lower courts. The Supreme Court refused.
Full Article: Voter-ID Fight Gets Down to the Wire in Wisconsin.