A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law on Tuesday, declaring that a requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls imposes an unfair burden on poor and minority voters. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman sided with opponents of the law, who argued that low-income and minority voters aren’t as likely to have photo IDs or the documents needed to get them. Adelman said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. He said the law appeared too flawed to fix with legislative amendments. Adelman’s decision invalidates Wisconsin’s law and means voter ID likely won’t be in place for the fall elections, when Republican Gov. Scott Walker runs for re-election.
While Walker committed last month to calling a special legislative session if the law were struck down in court, his spokeswoman wouldn’t commit to that. “We believe the voter ID law is constitutional and will ultimately be upheld,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email. “We’re reviewing the decision for any potential action.”
The ruling could set a precedent for similar legal challenges in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. There are 31 states with laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to the one a state judge struck down in Arkansas last week; that decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Pennsylvania’s voter ID law has been put on hold because of court challenges.